Archive for September, 2015

With the AFL and NRL finals upon us, along with the rugby world cup, and the horse racing spring carnival just around the corner, the sports betting companies have gone into over drive with their advertising campaigns to try and get the average punter to bet with them. Any number of money back specials and bonus bets and best odds are being promoted on TV, radio, in newspapers and on the internet and in many smart phone apps, and virtually around the clock. This article claims the sports betting companies are fighting for a share of the $21 billion wagered by Aussies on sports betting and racing each year. That is a serious amount of money. You could argue that the competition for our gambling dollar is giving punters better odds and better deals, but the reality is the majority of gamblers will be losing money in the long run; a very large majority. The sports betting companies have done a great job in ‘normalising’ gambling, where betting on sports now seems to go hand in hand with watching the sports themselves and this to me as the greatest issue as the next generations of young Australians growing up are just going to accept sports betting as a part of life (much like the baby boomers and subsequent generations of TV watchers were conditioned to accept advertising as a part of the TV watching experience).

The bottom line is the state and federal governments are doing very little to slow down the growth of the gambling industry in Australia, mainly due to the amount of money they are earning from taxation. I think the freedom to be able to have a bet on a sporting event if you choose to is great, and many of us enjoy this freedom as a bit of escapism. I can only imagine where things are going to be in 10 years time though if the sports betting companies are left unchecked in their expansion in to the Australian way of life through advertising and their constant hard sell.

Beaner

Sports betting companies spend big on ads but the regulator is watching

Natalie O’Brien and Perry Williams
Published: September 27, 2015

It has catchy music, glamorous young things enjoying glitzy nightclub settings, and promises that every time you bet you will earn reward points to redeem in resorts, hotels, restaurants, casinos and bars.  Viewers of the expensive television marketing campaign are enticed to “transform your betting experience wherever you are in Australia”.

The only trouble with this attention-grabbing promotion being shown in prime time on commercial channels and on social media is that the James Packer-controlled CrownBet​running the ads may be in breach of the NSW state gaming regulations.

The ads are not the only ones being shown that offer inducements or rewards for gambling. There is a war on between sports betting companies for the gambling dollar – which is estimated at more than $21 billion a year –  and a number of marketing campaigns have caught the attention of the NSW Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing.

A spokesman for OLGR said the CrownBet promotion first came to their attention as part of its monitoring program.

“OLGR has advised the company that its promotion is suspected of being in breach of NSW’s Racing Administration Regulation 2012 by offering inducements to gamble and failing to exclude NSW residents,” said the spokesman. “The company will be provided with an opportunity to respond prior to a final decision on regulatory action being taken.”

While the investigation is under way, the advertisements are still running in prime time TV slots.  CrownBet is one of a number of companies under investigation by OLGR over regulatory breaches, however the watchdog won’t reveal which other companies are being looked at. A spokesman for CrownBet declined to comment.

The maximum fine for companies under the NSW regulations is $5500. It pales in comparison to the amount being spent on advertising for gambling. The Standard Media Index (SMI) shows that in the year to August $149.1 million was spent on gambling ads, up from $104.5 million for the same period last year and more than double the $68.7 spent for the same period in 2012.

The index also shows most money is spent on metropolitan television and on subscription television, although the outlay on digital media is rising.

NSW Greens MP Dr John Kaye says the fines handed out to companies found to be breaching regulations are not high enough and are seen by the industry as just a cost of doing business. Kaye says he believes the advertising campaigns show a callous disregard for problem gamblers.

“It is a high-profit business where the revenue is increasingly focused on problem gambling and websites are specifically targeting young adult males who are known to be most susceptible to reward programs.”

Up to 500,000 Australians are at risk of becoming or are problem gamblers, according to an Australian government problem gambling website. It estimates the social cost of problem gambling to be $4.7 billion.

Some of the industry players offering rewards and bonuses include the Tom Waterhouse company, which is offering punters $100 bonus credits if they deposit $30 in a start-up account. Although this ad does say it excludes NSW, Victorian, West Australian and South Australian residents.

Rival firm Sportsbet also is offering a promotion where you deposit $25 and get a $75 bonus bet. It too says this excludes NSW, Vic, WA and SA.

International betting giant William Hill has kick-started a promotional campaign with TV spots offering money back to gamblers. The “own the moment” campaign says William Hill’s offer of money back means “real money – dollars in your account to do with whatever you like”.

Tim Costello, the chairman of the Australian Churches Gambling Taskforce, says the marketing campaigns are predatory and unacceptable. He says parents are outraged that they can’t protect their kids from this advertising.

“In a sense, we are essentially conditioning young people to believe that this is normal,” he says.

One of the pioneers of internet gambling in Australia, Matthew Tripp, says the surge of competition in the market also reflects a demand from punters to bet on their smart phones instead of visiting their local TAB.

“It’s a shift from on course, retail and telephone to online,” says Tripp, who now runs CrownBet.

The barrage of advertising gives the impression of a booming wagering market, but the bookmaker says that’s not quite the case.

“The awareness is heightened but certainly the gambling dollar hasn’t gone through the roof. The online market as a whole is growing at a rate of between 10 per cent to 15 per cent year on year but the overall sector is tracking in line with the economy.”

Tripp rode the market better than most. After shunning university to follow his father Alan into bookmaking, the 40-year-old made his fortune selling Sportsbet to Irish wagering giant Paddy Power for $115 million.

He then switched to a new online betting start-up, BetEasy, before James Packer’s Crown Resorts took control of the firm and rebadged it as CrownBet, with Tripp as its boss.

CrownBet caused a stir in sporting circles in August after signing a deal to broadcast AFL matches online via its apps through 2016.

Tripp says it reflects the huge popularity of the footy code – along with horse racing – among its punters, but acknowledges the crowded market makes it increasingly hard to stand out.

“Everything has a tipping point and I think we are just about to reach ours in the online wagering space,” he says. “You can certainly over-saturate in the market and I think you’ll find some of the European operators are certainly doing that. You need to pick that market and turn the dial up or down in line with consumer sentiment.”

By offering a rewards program linked to Crown’s hotel and casino offerings, Tripp says CrownBet is focusing on loyalty rather than instant rewards and credit offers.

“The offerings that are out there at the moment are very homogenous and frankly it’s a bit of a race to the bottom. Bet with us and win lose or draw you will gain something for your loyalty rather than getting your money back if your horse runs eighth in a race.”

The next few months will go a long way to defining the success of CrownBet and its rivals performance this year with the all-important spring horse racing season and footy finals generating a huge share of the firms’ annual revenue.

Executives like Tripp are also keeping an eagle eye on Canberra.

Former NSW premier Barry O’Farrell has been handed the task of reviewing the federal government’s outdated Interactive Gambling Act which governs the way technology can be used within the industry.

O’Farrell’s review, due in mid December, will also weigh how to provide more safeguards for the industry, given problem gambling rates are three times higher among online gamblers than traditional betting methods.

Gamblers will also be looking for guidance from the review over the controversial in-play betting system, promoted by international players William Hill and Bet 365, which allows punters to bet live on sports via their smart phones.

You can bet on the outcome of an event in Australia after it has begun but only via the phone or in person. However, British company William Hill claims that as long as punters keep their smart phone microphone on, it still adheres to the rule that live bets during sporting events are made by phone only.

Tripp says he wants to see a level playing field for all operators.

“The European operators continue to tread a very fine line in the way they conduct their business. We need to do everything in our power to ensure the government and obviously our customer base are happy with the middle ground that is found within the review.”

In 2013, the Department of Communications report into the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 called for industry to establish an advertising code of conduct to ensure advertising is not contrary to community standards and expectations.

A spokeswoman for the Australian Wagering Council, the peak body that represents the online sports betting and wagering industry in Australia including current members Bet365, Sportsbet, Unibet, the William Hill Group Australia and Betfair, says they are fully supportive of the recommendation and it is committed to working with industry, regulators and the wider community to ensure a code is developed sooner rather than later.

But she says that any discussion on the impact of advertising on problem gambling should note the recent report from Gambling Research Australia, The Marketing of Sports Betting and Racing, which concedes it is not possible to determine whether a causal relationship exists between problem gambling and exposure to gambling advertising in general, or to wagering and sports-related gambling advertising in particular.

“It’s important to note that legislation in each state and territory regulates the use of inducements and AWC members comply with those regulations. Statutory prohibition on the use of inducements in some states has seen a natural decline in the use of inducements across the wagering sector,” she says.

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie, the chairman of the Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on Gambling Reform that reported in 2013, says the proliferation of sports betting is a serious cause for concern.

“People are especially sick of wall-to-wall gambling advertising, particularly during G-rated television periods. Moreover the problem is only getting worse with the advertising spending going up and the amount being waged increasing dramatically,” he says.

Wilkie says the committee released a report into sports betting two years ago which provides a number of recommendations but both the “current and former governments have failed to act or do anything meaningful to address the problem”.

“For a start gambling advertising needs to be reined in and stopped altogether during daytime TV. Inducements and credit must be banned. And effective harm minimisation measures should be mandated.

“The current government inquiry into online gambling, including sports betting, is a sham seeing as three of the four terms of reference are only to do with protecting Australian online gambling businesses from their overseas competitors.”

This story was found at: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/sports-betting-companies-spend-big-on-ads-but-the-regulator-is-watching-20150925-gjv6xa.html

As my Bet365 a/c has been very quiet of late, they have generously offered me up to a $200 AUD bonus.

“Simply make a deposit of 20 AUD or more and you will be entitled to a 100% Deposit Bonus up to a maximum of 200 AUD.”

Sounds great, I can deposit $200 and Bet365 will give me an extra 200 bucks for free! But once you read the fine print, it becomes apparent very quickly that it will be difficult to actually see any of that money in my hand at the end of the day.

“To bet with your bonus, simply turn over the amount of your deposit once on the sports and markets of your choice. Please note, you must have settled bets to the value of three times your deposit and bonus prior to making a withdrawal.”

So first of all you need to bet the amount you deposited to access the bonus bet. So if I deposit the max $200, I need to then bet $200 to be able to bet the $200 bonus. No worries, I’ll just bet against myself on a market getting as close to 2-1 odds for either result.

But wait, there’s even finer print…

“Any single bets placed at odds of less than 1/2 (1.50) will not count towards any turnover requirement. In multiple bets at least one selection must have odds of 1/2 (1.50) or greater to count towards any turnover requirement.”

So no loading it all up on 1.08 favs until you meet the withdrawal requirements. And now it gets even more complicated.

“Only bets placed on the first selection in any market/fixture combination, both pre-match and In-Play, will count towards any turnover requirements. Any subsequent bets placed on other selections in the same market/fixture combination will not count towards the turnover requirements. This term is applied in conjunction with the other restrictions.

As an example, once you have qualified, a bet on Man Utd to beat Chelsea on the Full Time Result market at odds of 1/2 (1.50) or greater will count towards the turnover requirements, however a subsequent bet placed on Chelsea on the Full Time Result market in the same game either pre-match or In-Play will not count towards the turnover requirements.

Where your first bet on any market/fixture combination is less than 1/2 (1.50), this bet and any subsequent bets on this market/fixture combination will not count towards any turnover requirements.”

So to actually withdraw the bonus bet out of your a/c, you will first need to bet the amount of your deposit getting odds of 1.50 or more (straight up or for at least one leg of a multi). And then, if I’ve read this correctly, you will need to gamble three times your deposit and bonus to be able to make a withdrawal. So if you deposit $200, and get the bonus of $200, you will need to have settled bets to the value of $1200 before you can make a withdrawal. This will not be easy to do when you are restricted to at least one leg being 1.50 or more.

I’m glad they put the following advice at the bottom of the email, because by the time you have gambled your way to try and turn the deposit and bonus into cash in your hand, you may indeed need some help!

Don’t let the game play you. Stay in control. Gamble Responsibly. Bet365 is committed to responsible gambling, for more information go to http://www.gamblinghelponline.org.au or call 1800 858 858.

Beaner