It’s not exactly surprising that with the rise in popularity of online betting companies, that many would seek to take advantage of the Hottest 100, which is now possibly the biggest music poll in the world.

The grubby campaigns run by these companies around this time of year isn’t exactly new, as we detailed last year.

But one company in particular has taken it a step further this year.

They appear to be actually going out of their way to influence the results of the poll, and we can only assume drum up more business for themselves by repeating the wide coverage and outrage Buzzfeed’s Taylor Swift campaign received earlier this year.

Tone Deaf broke the story on Monday that this company had begun a concerted campaign to see Justin Bieber top Triple J’s annual Hottest 100 poll with the hashtag #bieber4hottest100.

Indeed the hashtag #bieber4hottest100 gained significant traction online, helped along through a promoted tweet by a betting company and a tweet from Bieber himself which has received more than 15k retweets and 23k likes alone.

But just when you though these companies couldn’t get an grubbier, it appears that the whole campaign may have just been a way to force Triple J to step in and disqualify Bieber so that they could make some money off it.

We’ll lay it out for you.

  1. Triple J enact a ‘Taylor Swift clause’ as part of their 2015 voting rules, adding some stipulations preventing voters from trolling the poll.
  2. Betting company start #bieber4hottest100 hashtag and promote it heavily online, at the same time encouraging punters to take a bet on Justin Bieber winning the poll.
  3. Triple J announce that they’re looking at the campaign and may disqualify votes if they feel they’ve been manipulated.
  4. Betting company starts taking bets on whether Triple J will disqualify Bieber.

And what about all that money this betting company has collected for their promotion of Bieber, knowing full well that it might very possibly result in the song being disqualified from the vote? They’ll keep that too of course.

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In fact, they’re already operating as if that is a forgone conclusion, writing “For Triple J to blacklist Bieber, despite actually playing his Grammy nominated collaboration with Diplo and Skrillex (‘Where Are U Now) back in April, is baffling.”

They’ve already begun a new campaign, this time turning their attention to what was already clear favourite, ‘Lean On’ by Major Lazer; launching a new campaign with #majorlazer4hottest100.

Indeed, the audacity of this betting company goes even a step further, accusing Triple J of being elitist and undemocratic for trying to keep the poll honest.

“Triple J state they want genuine fans only, but we’d be interested to know what characteristics define a genuine Triple J fan?” they wrote on their blog.

“Is it that they’re not allowed to like Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift or other artists they deem to be a threat. Even if said artists have been played on the station?”

“It’s quite elitist really and frankly, goes firmly against being the ‘Worlds’ Greatest Music Democracy’.”

I think we all had a bit of a laugh about Taylor Swift last year, and it did indeed spur some interesting discussions about Triple J, and the Hottest 100.

But for a betting company to seek to derail what is a much loved institution in Australia by potentially disqualifying thousands of votes for the favourite on the poll, is nothing short of reprehensible.

And if they really are actively seeking to manipulate the rules to make more money, it could even be illegal.

Ultimately, there needs to be a greater concern about how gambling advertising is trying to sneak its way into music than whether Justin Bieber really belong there.

This isn’t about shaming those who gamble – rather, it’s about acknowledging that large companies are strategically capitalising on the Hottest 100 in spite of its potential harmful effects on young audiences, and it’s time that it ends.

Just as some might say about Taylor Swift, gambling has absolutely no place in the Hottest 100. If only because it’s ruining it for the rest of us.

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