Same-sex marriage is a political football, but a bookie’s decision to take bets on the postal survey has been called “a whole new low”.
Betting agency Sportsbet is offering several markets on the survey, including final result and number of ‘Yes’ votes cast.
The markets have drawn the ire of the ‘Yes’ campaign, which said many LGBTI people had found the debate surrounding the survey stressful.
“To vote on the validity of some Australians’ relationships is bad enough, but to bet on them is a whole new low,” Sydney MP and prominent ‘Yes’ figure Alex Greenwich said.
But Sportsbet said the market was “different to a football game” and that it offered hundreds of markets on politics.
“In many ways it’s a poll to see what punters are saying, and markets like these are not renowned for big bets,” a spokesman said.
“It’s different to a football game.
“There are more bets on the ‘No’ vote individually, but we’ve taken about 40 per cent more money on the ‘Yes’ side.”
Calls to donate profits to charity
The bookmaker said it had run a same-sex marriage market, but had set up the postal survey market last month when it was confirmed the vote would go ahead.
Mr Greenwich said the mental health of LGBTI people had been affected by the debate.
“I think Sportsbet, to be making money on this process, is deeply concerning,” he said.
“This is not something gay people in Australia want to be put through but we are doing everything we can to win it.”
He said the company should donate any profits it made on the markets to LGBTI counselling services.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics has begun distributing forms to enrolled voters, with the result expected to be known in November.
“It’s just a market — anyone can vote ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ and more people are willing to put their money on ‘Yes’ so I guess people are sympathising really,” the Sportsbet spokesperson said.
“We haven’t had people letting us know it’s been a problem now or in the past five years.
“I think the postal vote is distressing people, not the market, because this has been here for five years.”
The Coalition for Marriage was contacted for comment.