Gambling on elections is an invitation for corruption, say two independent MPs who want it banned ahead of the September 14 poll.
Senator Nick Xenophon will introduce legislation to ban gambling on the outcome of state or federal elections, after one betting agency took out a full-page advertisement to promote its markets for this year's vote.
Sportsbet used images of Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott in its ad on Thursday, which featured a speech bubble from the opposition leader reading: "I'm going to win big on election day".
Senator Xenophon and fellow anti-gambling independent MP Andrew Wilkie are calling for both major parties to back the bill that would end a pre-poll flutter.
They say gambling on elections creates a corruption risk because party officials or candidates could use insider polling to bet on an outcome.
"When people can bet on an election outcome then surely there is a risk of corruption in the process, particularly if you are a candidate, if you are a party insider, a party official or a pollster, where you can get an unfair advantage in terms of what the outcome can be," Senator Xenophon said.
Mr Wilkie said over the past year the major parties had conducted half a dozen polls in his Tasmanian electorate of Denison.
"It would be entirely improper that they be allowed to go out there and place a bet when they're privy to that information," he said.
Should Ms Gillard refuse to ban election gambling, the pair said Labor and the coalition should stop candidates and officials placing bets on the result of the September 14 poll.
The Australian Electoral Commission should monitor all large bets to ensure the integrity of the electoral system, they said.
Sportingbet Australia chief Michael Sullivan was surprised to hear concerns that election betting was an integrity issue.
"Sportingbet Australia has never had any integrity issues on election betting in the past and does not expect to have any in the future," Mr Sullivan said in a statement.
"After all, it's a government election overseen by the Australian Electoral Commission."
He said they did not offer bets on the elections to South Australians because it is against that state's law.
"Each year we have disappointed punters asking us why, and frankly, we don't know why," he said.
Sportsbet says prohibition doesn't work on the internet, and people who want to bet on elections could go to unregulated sites offshore if it was banned in Australia.
"With regard to integrity, Sportsbet has strict caps on the size of bets we take on novelty products like elections," the company said in a statement.
"And if we receive a large and/or unusual bet, our markets are immediately shut down - thus ensuring integrity."
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