Tom Waterhouse has announced he will “dramatically cut back” from advertising on Channel Nine’s NRL coverage from tonight in an open letter apologising to the public for his ubiquity.
The high profile head of online betting site Tomwaterhouse.com has become the public face of the controversy around live betting odds being spruiked on live broadcasts of football games. And his heavy rotation ads featuring his slogan “I know what punters want” sparked a backlash of video parodies.
“Because I stand up as the bookmaker, and do not present as a faceless corporation, I also have, somehow, become the public face of the entire Australian gambling industry,” he wrote in an article published by News Limited today.
“If people have an issue with gambling, it seems to become an issue with me personally and I have to cop it on the chin,” he wrote.
Waterhouse said he needed to advertise heavily in order to take on the “big boys”, such as overseas corporates “who have taken over betting in Australia”, and Australian betting group TAB, he said.
Tomwaterhouse.com accounts for around five per cent of the racing and sports betting market with an estimated turnover of around $300 million, and he spends around five per cent of the betting advertising dollar, he claimed.
The son of trainer Gai Waterhouse and bookie Robert Waterhouse, Tom Waterhouse has reportedly been in talks with Channel Nine executives this week to discuss cutting back his $12.5million promotional deal — in which he spruiks live odds during NRL broadcasts — by around 20 per cent.
Under government proposals promotion of live odds by gambling companies and commentators will be prohibited during live broadcasts of sport.
Waterhouse claims that although advertising has been allowed since 2008, betting revenue has not increased since 2007. “What has changed is that TAB’s share has dropped with the competition and the corporate bookmakers have grown,” he said.
“My online business is still young and striving to grow and so I have needed to advertise heavily. This is the reality of being a privately owned, proudly Australian company – employing around 100 Australian workers – trying to take on some very big foreign players in an intensively competitive market.”
“However the public has spoken and you will see less of me on TV. I have listened.”