11 February 2021

Sportsbet won’t back the government to make the COVID vaccination deadline

Insights Red Herring

Not even Sportsbet thinks there is marketing offering odds of the government not meeting the COVID vaccination deadline such is the state of the booking and inventory system development

As last week wore on, and more and more confusion started to layer around the COVID vaccination program, our sister publication, The Medical Republic decided, in a well earned tea break, to ring one of our largest betting companies to see if they’d take an exotic bet on whether the government would meet their end of October deadline to vaccinate the entire population.

The very nice man in customer service listened intently to the proposition and the bets we were proposing to take (see end of article) and with what seemed like an excited tone in his voice said he would to run it past management to see.

He put us on hold.

Twenty minutes later he got back and said that, unfortunately – I guess unfortunately because it could have ended up a pretty hot betting market – it was against the law to run a tote on anything to do with the government.

TMR’s first thought was that it seemed just a little convenient.

Don’t they take bets on the general election?

Maybe they felt that betting on the government doing anything on time, particularly something involving a significant IT component, wouldn’t attract odds good enough to make it a market?

Before you read on, and make a decision on the odds yourself, we all want the COVID vaccination program to happen to deadline.

Really, the faster the better for everyone, for all sorts of reasons. But of course mainly for public health and the economy.

For the Liberal government, an October deadline would be a great launching pad for an end of year election, so they are certainly motivated. Of course, we aren’t saying they are not motivated by wanting to get us all protected, and get the economy opened up, and rolling again.

We promise we aren’t just being Hardy Har Har (it’s a 60s cartoon, Millennials) with the following few stories looking at some of issues that might make a bet on missing the deadline a good one.

We are just saying that there’s a lot of issues piling up –  logistical, commercial, medical, political,  ethical and otherwise – that might contrive to upset this ambitious task we have set ourselves.

Remember, vaccinations were due to start for phase 1a, in hospitals in just a week or so (that was the original deadline which has now already been moved), and phase 1b, for 6.5 million other high risk individuals, and involving GPs, just a few weeks after this.

Other stories in this newsletter look at the issues in detail: which booking engine where, why state and federal and commercial booking engines, who is co-ordinating, vaccine nationalism, and more. We took all these issues into accounting before we asked for odds on the following.


We publish these bets and odds as a sort of check list and reminder of what you might want to prepare for so you can better manage in your workflow and expectations as the great COVID vaccination program starts to roll out. We aren’t accepting bets

Bet 1: Australia will give up at least a third of its orders in the short term (remember we have enough coming for now to vaccinate us all three times over) to help countries in much more immediate need of the stock.

YES: 1.80

NO: 3.20


Bet 2The state government built booking and inventory systems won’t talk to the federal government one in time, or the major PMS and booking systems for GPs and there will be problems (possibly big ones).

YES: 1.01

NO: 23.2


Bet 3: The entire Australian population that can be vaccinated, and wants to be vaccinated will be vaccinated by October 31, 2021.

YES: 4.68

NO: 1.15

Bet 4: The Liberal government will either call an election before December if the vaccine rollout seems pretty well accepted by Australians, problems or not, and won’t call one if it turns out to be a public train wreck.

YES: 6.20

NO: 1.37

Please feel free to send us some exotic bets of your own.

Note: I said last week I’d continue analysing the new lobby group situation for GPs, but this felt more urgent. I’ll get back to that next* week.

* Don’t hold me to that.