The Australian government has disguised the COVID-19 vaccination booking service as a sports gambling App in an effort to trick reluctant citizens into registering for the jab.
The world-first initiative is being hailed as a creative strategy to fool hesitant citizens into registering for the COVID-19 vaccine, at a time when almost half the nation is in some form of lockdown or even under curfew.
The App is called OddBetter and was developed in order to tap into the enormous popularity of sports gambling in the country.
“Refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19 is a huge gamble, and OddBetter is a brilliant, creative solution to a complicated problem,” announced the Minister for Health Greg Hunt.
“The world-first initiative will encourage reluctant Australians to get vaccinated, which will in turn allow the country to open up and to return to some form of normal. Sports betting is a popular activity in Australia and this App taps into Australia’s love of sport and our love of a punt.”
The App has the appearance and functionality of a conventional sports betting App. It offers betting choices on a wide range of results in a wide range of sports. It differs from legitimate gambling Apps in that every time a user places a bet, they have actually sent their personal details to the government health system and automatically registered their name for a vaccination for either Pfizer, Astra-Zeneca or Moderna.
“Users will not be charged any money at any stage of this process,” stressed Hunt. “They will be required to register a credit card in order to use the App, like any sports gambling service, but this will be used only to cross reference other personal details and to confirm the user’s identity. Once an identity is confirmed, health authorities will also know if the person has or hasn’t been vaccinated.”
The minister then explained that punters using Odd Better will ‘win’ or ‘lose’ money inside the App, but that this ‘OddBetter currency’ is not real and will not add or subtract from their bank balance in the real word.
“It’s like electronic Monopoly money.”
Of course, finding a way to make people register for a jab is only part of the process.
“Once registered, we still need people to actually turn up and get the vaccination. So, the App has been designed to shut out any user who does not honour their appointment. They will then be advised to show proof of vaccination in order to resume using the App. Also, punters who have already been vaccinated will not receive an appointment notification.”
The minister was asked what had been done to prevent users from simply turning to another gambling site once they are shut out of OddBetter for not being vaccinated.
“Two things. One, we will offer the impossibly good odds on every bet, as well as more options on more sports than any other gambling company – we can do so because our service is not real. Secondly, we know that Aussie punters have an insatiable appetite for gambling – which is why there are at least 70 online gambling sites in the country.”
Hunt was also asked whether announcing the App publicly and writing a press release would expose it’s inauthenticity and thus render it redundant, to which he replied:
“Most anti-vaxxers and vaccine-hesitant people don’t read – they just take all their health advice from social media influencers, or people like George Christensen, Clive Palmer or Craig Kelly.”
Image: Daniel Schludi