Problem gambler given $980 000 in credit with bet companies

Posted: November 5, 2015 by Beaner in Gambling addiction, Sports betting
Tags: , , , , , ,

Yet another story of sports betting companies preying on someone with a gambling addiction.  The other story I read recently was about a sports betting agency lending someone with an intellectual disability $80 000 (which he didn’t ask for), which he subsequently lost, and they then wanted him to sell his family house to pay for the debt.  That story can be found here:

http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/archive/money/lost-in-a-loophole-over-betting/story-fngu4es9-1227588868614

The quicker these laws are changed the better so people who do have a gambling problem won’t be taken advantage of.

Beaner

Problem gambler, counsellors call for online betting credit crackdown; Senate to consider tougher laws

By Kaitlyn Sawrey, Claire Aird, Jo Lauder, Stephen Stockwell for Hack (Triple J)

On Melbourne Cup day, Anthony received calls and texts offering him almost $10,000 in gambling credit, trying to induce him to reopen the sports betting accounts that cost him his business, friends and family.

His life slid out of control in 2013.

“I was given about $980,000 in credit to bet with companies, and of course I lost all that, because I was a compulsive gambler,” he told triple j’s Hack.

By September this year, he had bet a “totally ridiculous” sum of around $2.5 million.

Online gambling lenders are not held to the same standard as credit companies because they do not charge any fees or interest, which triggers lending regulations.

A recent report from Financial Counselling Australia chronicled the gambling industry’s practices of handing out credit and inducements.

The report title Duds, Mugs and the A-list was based on a quote from a former employee of a sports betting company.

“‘A-List’ customers are wined and dined and offered credit ranging from $100,000-$500,000,” the report said.

“‘B list’ customers are ‘serious credit punters’ and are offered up to $20,000 in credit. The ‘duds’ or ‘mugs’ are everyone else: this group is offered $200-$500 of unsolicited credit.”

‘Dedicated relationship guy’ keep in contact with gamblers

Anthony said it started out with bookies offering free bets and match deposits, but “what you don’t know is that once you’ve opened an account … very quickly they can tell whether you’re going to turn into a VIP — a very big loser. And you’re a lot of money to them, a good income source”.

He said once he passed a certain threshold — $500 in free bets, matched by his own $500 — then it was “game on”.

“They’ll go to any lengths to include you and give you options in things. Probably more so than your real friends probably would do.” Anthony

“They’ll come at you thick and fast. They will have a dedicated person who will ring you and look after and email you,” Anthony said.

“This person will offer you free sporting event tickets, free sport deposits, free bets for absolutely no reason. They’ll find out what you like to do in your leisure time. They will become your best friend basically.”

Anthony, a golf and rugby lover, was offered free tickets to events.

“You feel really important because you’re one of eight people sitting in a box at a sporting event,” he said.

“They’ll go to any lengths to include you and give you options in things. Probably more so than your real friends probably would do.”

He said at one point he had six or seven of these “relationship guys ringing me and chatting me”.

Anthony also had unsolicited calls from other companies offering up to $20,000 in credit.

“I used to say — where did you get my information from? How do you know who I am? And they would say, ‘a friend of a friend told me’.”

 

Companies penalised for breaching gambling laws

Financial Counselling Australia’s report into the industry claimed a “former employee [told us] sports betting companies swap customer account data, contrary to privacy legislation”.

“When a gambler ‘goes cold’ and stops betting with one company, the company swaps lists with another company, which then entices the person to resume gambling,” the report said.

Offering unsolicited credit is outlawed in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, but it is not consistent across the country.

The NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing told Hack it was investigating a number of operators, but could not go into detail.

However, they said Sportsbetting.com.au — which is licensed in the Northern Territory — pleaded guilty in Sydney’s Downing Centre Court in September to publishing an ad on its website offering 100 per cent bonuses to new clients who deposited funds into betting accounts.

The offer did not exclude NSW residents. The company was fined $1,650.

Penrith-based company ClassicBet Pty Ltd was also convicted of illegal gambling advertising just days before, after it published an ad for a “Premium Rewards Program”, promising punters would be “rewarded for every bet you place, regardless whether you win or lose” and offering bonus bets and “rewards” including shopping vouchers, sports tickets and holidays.

ClassicBet was fined $1,000.

 

Loans by betting companies ‘increases impulse betting’

Lauren Levin, manager of policy and strategic projects at Financial Counselling Australia, said the Northern Territory has the least restrictive legislation.

“Inducements are legal, and surprise, surprise, that’s where most of the companies are licensed,” she said.

“If [loans are] offered online by the provider, it makes it much easier for impulse betting, for chasing your losses.” Senator Nick Xenophon

When Hack contacted the Australian Wagering Council, they declined an interview. They said from the beginning of November, all wagering service providers in the Northern Territory were required to comply with a code of practice.

And also that “any call for the prohibition of deferred settlement facilities would result in customers accessing credit from unscrupulous operators like illegal SP bookmakers and loan sharks and illegal offshore operators, who have little regard for consumer protection or harm minimisation [sic]”.

South Australian senator and anti-gambling advocate Nick Xenophon disagreed that clamping down on the industry would push punters towards dodgy lenders.

“If it’s offered online by the provider, it makes it much easier for impulse betting, for chasing your losses,” he said.

“If you have to go and borrow money, take out a loan — it doesn’t allow the fuelling of the gambling addiction.”

 

‘Legislation has to change’

Next week, Senator Xenophon will introduce a bill to amend the Interactive Gambling Act 2001, which would allow punters to self-exclude from online wagering services, set limits on monthly and yearly betting budgets and ban gambling advertisements during G-rated TV programs and sports broadcasts.

“It’s not just a question about ethics,” Senator Xenophon said, “it’s about… whether it should be legal. I don’t think it should be”.

“You can’t have credit if you go to a pokies outlet — that’s illegal. But it seems to be legal if it’s online gambling and that’s wrong. If you don’t have the money to gamble in the first place, why should you have access to credit?

“There’s going to be a whole generation of young Australians who won’t be able to afford to go on that overseas trip, or buy their first car or put a deposit on their first home.”

Anthony said he wanted to see legislation enacted that would stop others falling into the financial hole he did.

“When you’re left with nothing — I’m not talking about money, I’m talking about the love of family and friends gone – I mean, you go into a pretty dark place,” he said.

“It’s pretty hard to see your way out, you think you’re the only person in the world — how could I be so stupid?

“But you’ve got a disease of addiction. Legislation has to change to protect those who fall into that addictive pattern.”

Senator Xenophon said if the bill was not successful, people could expect to hear more from him in the lead-up to the next election.

“We’re already the number one country in the world in terms of losses, we’re number one in the world in terms of problem gambling,” he said.

“This needs to be an election issue.”

If you’re struggling with a gambling problem, there is always someone you can talk to on 1800 858 858. If you don’t feel like picking up the phone, you can chat to someone online here.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-04/problem-gambler-counsellors-call-for-online-betting-credit/6913036

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