Posts Tagged ‘corruption’

Australia has the highest gambling losses per head of population in the world. 

The Alliance for Gambling Reform says more than $1 billion has been saved in poker machine losses in the past five weeks.  This is $200 million a week not being spent on gambling in Australia.

– John has self-excluded from hundreds of venues, but they continue to let him in to gamble away his pension and his mother’s money.  Self-exclusion is a facade and a joke.  Pubs and clubs and the government doesn’t want the gambling machine to slow down or stop, and the most vulnerable are the gambling addicts who aren’t getting the promised help and support.

Lives have been lost, jobs and businesses have been wiped out, and individuals have had to come to grips with being isolated from family and friends.

No industry has felt the strain more than pubs, clubs and casinos. From March 23, they had to close their doors at short notice, throwing the lives and livelihoods of tens of thousands of Australians into turmoil.

But for some Australians these closures have proved a blessing rather than a curse.

ABC Investigations has been in contact with hundreds of people affected by problem gambling, and we asked whether coronavirus shutdowns have changed gambling habits.

Many of them have described the past five weeks as one of the most peaceful periods they can remember.

Here are three of their stories.

The mineworker

Corey* is a mineworker from Queensland. He knows too well the pain that a gambling addiction can cause.

His father lost the family home through betting on the horses when Corey was a small boy.

“All these years later, it still causes fights in my family,” he said.

“Knowing my family history, I became a staunch anti-gambler. I’d never even bet on the horses.”

The 29-year-old avoided the issues his father had. Until July last year.

“My father got diagnosed with a form of dementia and I went into a dark place. I started drinking heavily and began to play the pokies.”

The Queenslander had been working hard as a fly-in fly-out mine worker and was saving for a home.

Within two months of taking up the pokies his $25,000 deposit was gone.

“I’d wake up at 10:00am, go to a pub or club, and play the pokies, sometimes until 3:00am.”

He would repeat this pattern during his week off in the city, before flying back to a mining camp to work for two weeks.

After another two months, he sold his prized 4WD for $17,000 to feed his new habit.

Soon that cash windfall was gone. With no money in the bank, and nothing else to sell, he started borrowing money.

By the time the lockdown started Corey owed the banks and same-day lenders close to $20,000.

“COVID-19 has been a blessing for me, with pubs, clubs and casinos closed, I’ve been completely unable to play the pokies at all,” he said.

He’s now putting aside 80 per cent of his income to pay off his loans and feels that he has his gambling under control.

“Since the lockdown started, I created an online gambling account and put $100 into it. I lost that $100 straight away, so I haven’t put any money back into it since,” Corey said.

“I’m hoping this is the end of my eight-month gambling habit. It’s cost me so much, from my health and happiness, to pushing away friends for the sake of gambling — it’s really impacted me on every level and set me way back financially.”

The mother

For Sonia, the 58-year-old mother of a pokies addict, the lockdown has been one of the best months of her life.

“It has been a blessing for me and my son because he’s suddenly not being tricked, deceived and robbed by the poker machines,” she said.

Sonia’s son John* has twice attempted suicide in relation to his gambling addiction.

“We are both experiencing a peace we haven’t experienced for over a decade. I’m able to live each day without the constant fear that my son will try to take his life again.”

“He told me that God’s answered his prayers with the lockdown, that a heavy weight has been lifted off him and that he feels like he has been set free.”

The 28-year-old has MS and is on disability pension. Sonia says at around 2:00am on a Saturday he goes to a local Sydney pub or club knowing his pension will be in his bank account by then.

“By the time the sun comes up he’s lucky if there’s anything left in his account,” Sonia said.

Once John blows all his money, Sonia has to make the most awful choice. Does she give him more money to help him get through the week knowing he will probably put it through the pokies?

Invariably she gives in.

“People ask why I give him money. It’s because I’m scared that he might commit a crime to pay for his habit,” she said.

“You have to realise the habit overrules normal thinking. Do you know how many people are in jail because of a pokie addiction? I’m scared he could end up in jail.”

Sonia says she’s on the verge of losing her house and has borrowed tens of thousands of dollars from the banks and from family to pay for her son’s habit.

She says John has self-excluded from hundreds of venues, but they continue to let him in to gamble away his pension and his mother’s money.

Sonia says she has used the lockdown to pay back money she’s borrowed.

“In the past five weeks I haven’t had to give him money. But it’s so much more than the money, it’s the emotional roller coaster as well.”

Australia has the highest gambling losses per head of population in the world. Sonia hopes the lockdown will lead to a rethink on poker machine policy.

Over the past 25 years, she has held a number of senior positions in the manufacturing industry, and says that the absence of poker machines is not just good for the families of addicts, but for small business as well.

“Over $6.5 billion is lost to poker machines each year in NSW alone. If this money was spent in small business the economy would thrive and many jobs would be generated.”

The small businessman

Andrew runs a small business in rural Queensland.

Much of his work is done on the road, and when he drives into a new town, he finds it difficult not to pass the local pub.

“If I’m driving for work, something in me gets triggered and I will drop into the pub and start putting money through the pokies,” he said.

The businessman finds himself being drawn to something he hates.

“I can’t stand the pokies. But I started playing them 20 years ago when I was struggling with anxiety.”

Andrew suffered trauma as a child that led to anxiety in adulthood. In his late teens he started drinking, then playing the pokies, as he tried to deal with his past experiences.

“It terrifies me to think how much I have lost. Outside my food, my rent and my phone bills, I was probably putting around 60 per cent of my income through the machines.”

He says in the past month he’s felt more at ease than any other time in the past two decades.

“This isolation has been an absolute godsend. Prior to the pandemic I was still visiting pokie rooms two or three times a week, but in the past five weeks I haven’t even thought about pokie machines,” Andrew said.

“Prior to this, my anxiety levels were up and down constantly. Now, I’m so much more relaxed and less anxious.

“Today I had a beer and put $20 on the horses on my phone and I was content with that. Before I could pour $3,000 into the pokies in a couple of hours.”

Andrew is worried about what might happen when the pubs and clubs reopen.

“I do have concerns about what happens down the track, but my hope is that my time away from the pokies has given me strength and gets me to see what life is like without them.”

*Not their real names

ABC Investigations By Steve Cannane 26/4/20

It is no surprise to me that Bet365 and no doubt many other sports bet agencies are doing everything they can to maximize their profits at the expense of a fair playing field.  A Bet365 insider has come forward and explained how they limit how much winning punters can win, as Bet365 is only interested in encouraging losing gamblers to lose more.

So if you think sports betting is a level playing field, compared to say the pokies where we know they are programmed in how much they payout, think again.  You are gambling against sophisticated algorithms that are designed to limit how much you can win and maximize how much you lose.

Beaner

 

In this sports betting company, the winners are called ‘problem customers’

On a hot Saturday afternoon in Darwin, James Poppleton is mopping the sweat from his brow.

It hasn’t rained for 160 days.

On this particular day, he’s got even more reason to perspire.

He’s about to speak out against his former employer — one of the world’s largest betting companies.

Mr Poppleton worked for 18 months as a customer account supervisor at bet365.

What he saw during his time at the company disturbed him so much he’s blowing the whistle on bet365’s practices — despite the personal risk.

The problem with winning

“Australians have an innate sense of fairness almost built-in, and what the bookies do, what bet365 does is not fair,” he said.

“You can’t win. Those that win are stopped. Those that lose are exploited and then they develop cheating techniques as well.”

Taking in a game of women’s AFL at Tracy Village Oval, there’s a palpable sense that a deluge of rain is about to break Darwin’s dry spell, and James is spilling what he knows about how parts of the sports betting industry operates.

“I’m speaking out about bet365 because the information I know is a burden on my conscience.”

For the first time, he’s revealing how bet365 uses backdoor algorithms, restrictions and alleged delaying tactics to skew the competition and drive up profits — all while the punter thinks they’re playing a fair game.

Punters are suspicious

It was a bet365 promotion on the Big Bash League that made the agency attractive to Daniel Laidlaw. He’s a punter who understands odds better than most.

A professional poker player by night, he treats sports betting as a hobby.

He noticed something unusual was happening with his bet365 account earlier this year.

“When I tried to place my usual-sized bets, it was apparent that I could only bet to win an amount in the range of $5-10 dollars when previously, I’d be able to bet to win amounts between $1,000 and $5,000.”

As a result, Mr Laidlaw now gambles with offshore betting sites that pay no tax in Australia.

Bet365 won’t tell Mr Laidlaw why it restricted the size of his bets.

ABC Investigations has obtained a screenshot of Mr Laidlaw’s account details from inside bet365. It reveals that he has been effectively banned from betting with the agency. The truth is revealed by a secret algorithm that classifies Daniel as a successful punter and therefore a risk to the company’s profits.

Daniel's risk rating is shown as 0.0025

It rates him at 0.0025. This means inside bet365 Mr Laidlaw is considered a threat to its bottom-line.

According to former bet365 employee James Poppleton, a risk rating of 0.0025 is one of the highest that can be assigned.

He explains how the system operates:

“Your data tells them how many bets you’ve placed, what sport you’ve put it on, your average bet, your total turnover and your win or loss ratio to the company,” he says.

“If you win, the algorithm kicks in and stops you from being able to bet any significant amount of money.”

Mr Laidlaw has not been able to obtain his risk rating from the company itself.

“I think it’s outrageous. It’s unfair. And there’s also just no transparency. If they’re profiling us in this way, then we should know as customers exactly what it means and have access to this information,” he says.

No one from bet365 would agree to an interview with the ABC. In a statement, it said its “service is provided in accordance with its published terms and conditions and all applicable laws and regulations.”

As part of those terms and conditions, it can close or suspend an account at any time for any reason.

Mr Poppleton claims these algorithms apply not just to winners, but those who lose as well.

“As soon as you start losing, they’ll open you up to lose more and more and more, you can bet bigger and bigger amounts,” he says.

“If you stop winning, you’re allowed to bet more and more and more. It’s the opposite of responsible gambling.”

Bet365 said it, “has a robust responsible gambling policy in place to monitor each customer’s gambling patterns and expenditure and ensure that their gambling behaviour is within responsible limits.”

A reclusive billionaire

From humble origins, bet365 has capitalised on an explosion in online gambling and now boasts over $5 billion in turnover for its global operations. The UK-based agency is privately owned by the Coates family and based in the city of Stoke-on-Trent.

At its centre is the reclusive mathematical and entrepreneurial genius Denise Coates, who is now by far Britain’s highest-paid chief executive officer; she took home a whopping $506 million pay packet last year.

Her father owned what she once described as a “small chain of pretty rubbish betting shops”. It has been reported she bought the domain name bet365.com on eBay and launched the business from a portable cabin in a car park near one of the family betting shops.

‘Ban or bankrupt’

Bet365 soon pioneered a new way of maximising profits.

The betting agency would entice punters to sign up with good odds, free bets and special offers and then ban or restrict the successful ones, sending them off to gamble with their competitors.

“The other companies didn’t know what to do,” says Brian Chappell, the founder of the UK consumer advocate group Justice for Punters.

“They were asking: ‘How do we get our losing customers back because all we’re ending up with is our winning customers?’ So, they had to join the game, didn’t they?”

The consumer advocate describes the business model that bet365 pioneered as “ban or bankrupt”.

“It’s this business model of being really, really ruthless with your customer base. You end up with a customer base that is virtually 100 per cent known losers.”

Part of bet365’s success in Australia is attributable to its relationship with the biggest sporting codes — it’s an official gold partner of Cricket Australia.

Its logo can be seen on the boundary rope during play, and the odds are regularly spruiked during pay-TV coverage.

‘Problem customers’

For bet365 the most lucrative area of sports betting globally is in-play betting, although the company claims it’s a minor part of its Australian business. In-play allows punters to bet while a match is live — the next goal in football, the next try in football, the next wicket in cricket.

Bullet points describing the problem customer.

A smart in-play punter will have a good knowledge of the sport, an understanding of how odds work and will then apply those skills to try and beat the bookmaker in fast-moving sports where odds can sometimes lag behind what’s unfolding in the game.

In Australia, you can only bet in-play over the phone thanks to laws dating back to 2001 which attempted to minimise the losses from online betting.

A secret internal bet365 document obtained by ABC Investigations suggests that mandatory phone betting for in-play was causing problems for the company.

The policy document, dated September 2016, is designed to deal with what bet365 calls “problem customers” and says:

“The nature of betting on the telephone as opposed to betting online lends itself to the possibility of being exploited in fast-changing markets … some customers are aware of this fact and use the pace of the sport to their advantage when placing bets.”

The leaked document shows that bet365 was concerned by customers stalling on the phone or placing what it calls late bets.

bet365 told the ABC it targets, “those who seek to gain an unfair advantage over other customers through deliberately deceptive and fraudulent means including by using delay tactics and other abuses of the system.”

Given the terms and conditions already allows the company to ban customers it suspects of fraud or reject any bet it sees fit, James Poppleton describes the problem customer policy in a different way.

“We were having lots of customers who were better than the trading department at betting at live in-play, so they would see where the odds were just that little bit better than what they believed they should be. And they were winning,” he says.

The so-called “problem customers” were put on a list and managed by a special team which would check their betting history, listen to their calls and potentially restrict them from betting.

According to Mr Poppleton, this policy wasn’t doing enough to prevent these “problem customers” from winning.

He claims the company came up with a new secret strategy to deal with them.

‘Delay testing’

An internal bet365 email from September 2017, obtained by ABC Investigations, announced that something called Quick Code Delay Testing was taking place.

Customers making Quick Code bets over the phone using 3- or 4-digit codes were having the length of their calls logged. According to the email, the testing was to see, “if there is any delay between placing the bets on Cricket as opposed to the other sports.”

Lawyers acting for the company told the ABC that the purpose of the testing was designed to reduce “naturally occurring” delays experienced by customers when placing bets over the phone.

Mr Poppleton had suspicions it was for something else entirely.

He claims the testing was to see whether customers would notice if there was a delay for in-play betting on certain sports.

“I asked one of the managers if the purpose of the testing was to see whether or not you could tell if there was a delay at the point of bet placement within the tele-bet software. And he said, yes.”

The ABC contacted the manager in question and asked him to confirm Mr Poppleton’s allegation. He did not respond.

Mr Poppleton claims at the time, there was a delay of 1-3 seconds between when a bet was submitted over the phone in certain sports and when it was accepted.

Seconds may not sound like much, but when betting on fast-moving sports involving elite athletes, even micro-seconds can count. Broadcast delays can mean the action on the TV is a few seconds behind the action at the ground.

He claims any delay would give more time for a bookmaker to reject a punter’s bet or reconsider the odds on offer.

The former bet365 employee says the testing stopped soon after he raised the issue with a manager.

Mr Poppleton concluded that it had solved the problem of sharp punters winning on in-play and it was no longer necessary to use the “problem customer” policy.

“The procedures we used to manage customers who were beating us in-play were no longer needed.”

He claims the alleged delay was big enough to make a difference but small enough for the punter not to notice and gave bet365 an unfair advantage.

Bet365 told the ABC, “it has never used any form of delay in its telephone in-play betting service in Australia,” and that its “telephone system does not have any such functionality”.

Delay ‘is cheating’: Punter

ABC Investigations has obtained four screenshots from computer terminals inside bet365. They show customer accounts which have the words “Delay Added” next to punters’ names.

Three of these accounts appear to belong to overseas punters.

“I’ve seen a complaint spreadsheet that a couple of international customers had asked if there was a delay within their accounts,” says James Poppleton.

He says if there’s a delay put on for overseas customers it’s unfair, especially if they’re not told about it:

“Putting a delay into people’s accounts or into individual sports and not informing the punter is cheating. They are only doing it to make more profit, to stop people who are smarter than the bookie and to win more money off them, to cheat them. Punters should know what the rules of betting are.”

One of the accounts with “Delay Added” next to the punter’s name appears to be Australian but also has the term “Aus BetCall” against it. This is a reference to an old bet365 system which allowed a punter to place bets using a phone or computer without having to have an actual human conversation.

Screenshot says "Picking off slow suspends (Aus BetCall) - delay added"

Several betting agencies had different versions of these systems but they are no longer in use after a government crackdown.

The regulator

The main regulator for sports betting is the Northern Territory Racing Commission.

The NT government introduced very low tax rates to attract corporate bookmakers ten years ago. More than 20 agencies subsequently set up their headquarters in Darwin, including bet365.

Alastair Shields has been the chair of the NT Racing Commission for just over 18 months.

He says he’s not heard of any allegations about delays in in-play betting.

“If there was some deliberate action taken to delay … that’s something we would have jurisdiction to look at, in particular, whether that, I guess, complies with their licence conditions, within the terms and conditions of their contract.”

When it comes to restrictions placed on successful punter’s accounts he says he has had complaints about that, but there’s little he could do about it.

“Essentially, it’s a contractual matter between a client and a sports bookmaker. That’s a bit the same as if I go into a shop and the shopkeeper decides they don’t want to serve me. They can decide not to do that.”

A fair bet?

Mr Poppleton had an acrimonious relationship with bet365 before he left and is worried about the cost of speaking out.

“They’ll either deny it and say I’m lying or that I’m a disgruntled employee.”

He says two disputes with management before he left the company were resolved but he began to question the culture of bet365.

Mr Poppleton says one was over staff being forced to take annual leave and another about employees being disciplined for taking sick leave.

“It motivated me to look further into the other activities of the company, and that led me to discover that the whole company is set up for screwing the punter.”

He says he’s ashamed about his time working for bet365 but hopes speaking out will help shed light on the secretive world of sports betting.

“I think punters, when they find out, will be angry. Aussie punters think they’re getting a fair go. Getting a fair game. A fair bet. And they’re not.”

By Steve Cannane and Kyle Taylor

Fri 6 Dec 2019, 11:52 AM AEDT

https://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2019-12-05/bet365-whistleblower-says-winners-given-delays/11768486

 

AFL clubs reaped millions of dollars from poker machines last year, as pokies losses in Victorian pubs and clubs swelled to $2.7 billion – the second highest amount on record.

Just let that figure sink in for a minute – $2.7 billion in just Victoria, which equates to $7.397 million a day being lost on poker machines across the state.  That is a staggering amount of money!

Beaner

 

AFL clubs fill boots with pokies cash, as losses hit $2.7bn

Losses hit the highest level in ten years, data from the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulator released Friday shows, and the state’s poorest suburbs were over-represented.

The City of Brimbank – which covers St Albans, Sunshine and surrounding areas – topped the list at $143 million as the local government area with the greatest losses..

The $2.69 billion lost in the 2018/19 financial year is the second highest on record, after 2009. However it is only slightly (0.13 per cent) higher than last year, even with population growth and inflation.

The figures do not include more than 2500 machines inside Melbourne’s Crown Casino.

The data shows more than $77 million was lost in machines owned by Victorian AFL clubs during the year. Hawthorn had the greatest share making just under $24.7 million from its 165 machines at the West Waters Hotel in Caroline Springs and Vegas At Waverley Gardens, in Mulgrave.

Losses at those venues were $400,000 higher than last year.

Hawthorn, along with Carlton (which took $17.8 million at its venues), Essendon ($11.1 million), Richmond ($5.3 million) and St Kilda ($2.3 million) were all recently handed new 20-year licences to operate the machines out to 2042.

But they are coming under pressure on the controversial money makers, with all other Victorian clubs either exiting their poker machines or pledging to do so.

Anti-gambling campaigner Tim Costello said poker machines lead to the loss of “much more than money”.

How can the AFL possibly promote good mental health and family values when it is profiting from gambling harm?

“In extreme cases, poker machines cause the loss of lives due to suicide,” said Rev Costello, from the Alliance for Gambling Reform.

“How can the AFL possibly promote good mental health and family values when it is profiting from gambling harm?”

AFL commission chairman Richard Goyder has previously said he wants clubs to reduce their dependence on the gambling revenue.

Collingwood got out this year selling its pokies venues – The Club in Melton and the Coach and Horses in Maroondah – late in calendar 2018. Those two venues took $12.9 million in losses across the full 2019 financial year.

Geelong, Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs have all pledged to get out of pokies, while North Melbourne has been pokies-free for a decade.

The Bulldogs took $5.8 million from Club Leeds in Footscray and the Peninsula Club in Dromana, while Geelong took $7 million from its Brook on Sneydes hotel in Point Cook, which it hopes to sell this year.

Melbourne sold its Leighoak Club early in the year, and made $2.8 million from its remaining venue, the Bentleigh Club in Glen Eira. The club will not renew it license on that club’s machines when it expires in 2022.

A spokesman for Victorian Gaming Minister Marlene Kairouz said the goverment was tackling problem gambling by freezing the number of pokies across the state until 2042, capping the number of pokies in vulnerable areas and limiting EFTPOS withdrawals in venues.

The Epping Plaza Hotel was the venue in Victoria with the highest losses at $20.2 million, followed by Berwick Springs Hotel ($19.6 million), the Plough Hotel in Mill Park ($19.6 million), Kealba Hotel in Sunshine ($19.2 million), and Skyways Taverner in Airport West ($18.6 million).

The Casey, Greater Geelong , Greater Dandenong, Hume, Monash and Wyndham council areas all recorded losses of over $100 million, the VCGLR data shows.

The AFL clubs and the league were contacted for comment.

The Age – Patrick Hatch – July 26, 2019

With the 2017 AFL season nearly upon us, the sports betting agencies are gearing up for another onslaught of advertising across TV, Pay TV, radio, newspapers and the internet.  It really depresses me that our local game is now in bed with the betting agencies, so closely linked that the AFL relies on the money, while at the same time warning the AFL players of the dangers of gambling.  It was pleasing that some of the players have made comments about this irony recently, and with many AFL players now family men, they are also acutely aware of the responsibility they have to raise their own children in a gambling free environment – which is difficult to avoid when their kids are watching daddy on TV and there is a sports betting ad or odds update during every commercial break after a goal has been kicked.

GAMBLING advertising during AFL games is “out of control” according to Western Bulldogs premiership captain Easton Wood.

Wood took to Twitter during the telecast of Friday night’s AFLW game between the Bulldogs and Adelaide to raise his concerns and asked fans whether they agreed.

Wood’s tweet was retweeted more than 1000 times and had more than 2700 likes. Most of the replies were strong in their support, however some queried whether he would be prepared to play for less money if the gaming industry pulled its financial support for the game.

In a note attached to the tweet, he said the Bulldogs this week had their annual education session with the AFL, which he described as “both informative and well run.”

But he questioned why there was so much gambling advertising if gambling was such a big issue that it required an annual information session from the League.

“Why – as an industry – do we support the onslaught of gambling advertising you’re now faced with when watching an AFL game?” he wrote in the tweet.

“The obvious issue here is the effect this advertising has on children every time we pull on our boots. The big question is do we think the normalization of gambling – particularly to kids – is acceptable in this day and age?”

Friday night’s match was broadcast live on Fox Footy in Victoria, but the gambling industry advertises across all forms of live sport. The industry standard is that 10 per cent of advertising during live sport broadcasts can promote sports betting.

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Easton Wood

RESOLVING the issues surrounding gambling in the AFL won’t be easy but the conversation needs to happen, Geelong veteran Harry Taylor says.

Taylor said it was a concern to him that the eldest of his three children was able to name the gambling-related advertisements he saw when watching sport on TV.

However he said further education and discussion were critical if answers were to be found on the appropriate relationship between gambling and professional sport.

“When my eldest can name a lot of the ads on TV, that is a bit of a worry,” Taylor said.

“It’s certainly something that we need to keep talking about [and] educating people about. It’s not as simple as just cutting them out of the AFL.”

Western Bulldogs premiership skipper Easton Wood put the issue back on the agenda at the weekend when he questioned the level of gambling advertising during televised AFL games.

Wood wrote on social media: “Do we think the normalisation of gambling – particularly to kids – is acceptable in this day and age?”

Taylor said more education was needed for AFL players and society in general.

From the Age, July 15 2016

by Greg Baum

When Nick Xenophon and Andrew Wilkie announced their mission to loosen the nexus between gambling and sport in Australia on Thursday, it was not hard to imagine that in the offices of some corporate bookies, the first thing they did was to frame a market on the likelihood of the politicians’ success, complete with cash-back options and bonus bets.

The next thing would have been to commission an advertising campaign featuring a bar and a couple of dorky young men frothing at their mouths while stroking their unshaven chins – quite dextrous, really – and two young women in the background, bestowing on them a patronising roll of their eyes.

“This is the gift horse everyone makes sure keeps its mouth shut.” Illustration: Jim Pavlidis.

It used to be said that Australians would bet on two flies crawling up a wall. It was an innocent enough image, implying friendly competition between mates at the manageable level of whatever they had in their pockets at the time, even if it did gloss over the certainty that one of them would always pick the wrong fly, yet refuse to give up, convince himself that the next fly on the other wall was a dead-set cert and be wrong again, with consequences no one much talked about then.

Now the cliche would be that Australians would bet on any two of thousands of contingencies arising out of happenings – not always sport – anywhere in the world, offered to them by a corporate bookie and outlaid and – sometimes – redeemed at the push of a smartphone button, no longer limited to loose change and ready cash, nor even by state or international borders, not restricted at all. Merry-making mates and the girls who so generously indulge them don’t come into it, no matter what the ads say.

The punt has become institutionalised, a miserable process. Australians used to be sceptical about institutions. Now we wear their T-shirts.

I can’t remember an election campaign like the most recent in the way the bookies’ markets were reported and dwelled upon about as prominently as the polls. The usual justification was that polls were not reliable, but the bookies rarely got it wrong. But they did this time.

Where does that leave us? Here, that the gambling industry has infiltrated every part of Australian life and become a massive force in it. Expect at the next election to hear Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull – if it is still him – declare not that he is confident of victory, but that he sees himself as a $1.05 chance.

We’ll confine ourselves here to sport. There, it is a matter of following the money. If you bet on sport, some part of your wager goes to a television network in the form of advertising revenue, then on to a sporting body as vast rights fees. If you play the pokies at a club venue, the profits go directly to the club and form a major and growing part of their incomes (but not at North Melbourne). Downstream, this leads to social dysfunction estimated by some to be as endemic as the legacy of alcohol abuse.

But this is the gift horse everyone makes sure keeps its mouth shut.

Sports bodies make vague noises about social commitment and their dedication to developing other forms of income, all the while collecting more and more of this guaranteed jackpot. Just this week, it emerged that Collingwood had promised renovations to a pokies pub it owns in Ringwood, but only if it was allowed to install 10 more machines. Bookies are no better: they preach responsible gambling, but pay fast-moving lip service to it in almost comical disclaimers at the end of ads, small print in smaller voices.

The least but most obvious effect of all this calculated conditioning is to the amenity of the sports fan. Whether on television or at the ground, the bookies and their spiel are in your face: in ads, on an expert panel, on the scoreboard, in the call. Briefly, even the industry realised that they were giving people the irrits, and pulled their heads in, but only a little. This is where Xenophon and Wilkie would like to start, by reducing or even banning gambling advertising during sports broadcasts and at venues.

They know the power of the medium, for good and evil. That power was central to successful crusades on smoking and the road toll.

Just this week, it was announced that the AIDS epidemic in Australia was over. That fight began with a spectacularly memorable public education campaign more than 20 years ago. If messaging makes this sort of impact, then so must its absence. The Australian Wagering Council knows this. Its defence of the status quo is that betting advertising can be a force for good, directing punters to Australian providers rather than those nasty off-shore outfits.

Political will is negligible. In the election campaign, gambling reform was a non-issue, not mentioned by Labor or the Coalition and rarely even by the Greens, who have the most stringent policy.

The many schisms in the new Parliament offer hope for Xenophon and Wilkie, but only if one of the major parties warms to their objective, which seems unlikely. Otherwise, they might as well try fence in the industry with fly swats. They won’t surrender, but the bookies would say that you can have $10 the pollies, with the margin set at 80 points of order.

http://www.theage.com.au/sport/gambling-reform-dont-bet-on-it-20160715-gq6rxh.html

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

It is sad to see that governments in some states and territories are making it easy for people with gambling addictions to blow their money.  The gambling industry was opposed to the reforms of the previous Gillard government, and now that the LNP are in charge, those reforms are all but gone or being ignored as problem gamblers are once again encouraged to spend their money on poker machines and the TAB in venues, pubs and clubs.  The power of the gambling industry is making this possible, where they have made large donations to governments at state and federal levels to win government support, where in return the government takes no action on recommended reforms and guidelines to help problem gamblers and people with gambling addictions as the increase in gambling revenue equates to an increase in their tax revenue.  This article poses the pertinent question; if Australians spend more per head on gambling than any other country, why are governments encouraging further growth of a harmful industry?  And the simple answer is that governments are themselves addicted and reliant on the tax generated from the gambling industry, to the point where the cost of reforms and restrictions to help problem gamblers outweighs their need to generate revenue from this insidious source.

Gambling pays off … for Australian governments

By Mike Steketee

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-17/steketee-gambling-pays-off-for-australian-governments/6625170

State and territory governments increasingly rely on gambling tax for revenue, which helps explain why Australia is currently going backwards on the issue despite clear evidence of a public health threat, writes Mike Steketee.

Two weeks ago, the Baird Government in NSW introduced changes to make life easier for serious poker machine players. That is part of a trend, with governments in Canberra, Queensland and the Northern Territory going down the same path. After its comprehensive demolition of the Gillard government’s reforms to tackle problem gambling, the gambling industry has pressed home its advantage by extracting further concessions to increase its profits, guarantee its further expansion, and increase the misery of the estimated 115,000 mainly low-income Australians with a serious gambling addiction – one mostly caused by the pokies. However, there are signs of pushback.

The Alliance for Gambling Reform has been formed to co-ordinate the activities of church and community groups who speak for the 70 per cent of Australians who said in 2011 that gambling should be more tightly controlled. Separately, Neil Lawrence, the ad man who created the Kevin 07 campaign, has left a significant legacy after his sudden death this week in the Maldives: a powerful documentary, scheduled to be shown on the ABC, revealing how pokies are specifically engineered to encourage addiction. In the meantime, as a result of the most recent changes, gamblers in NSW clubs can now store $5,000 in an account or a smart card – a 25-fold increase from the previous standard limit of $200. As well, they can receive up to $5,000 of their winnings in cash, whereas previously amounts over $2,000 had to be paid by cheque or electronic funds transfer.

Monash University’s Charles Livingstone, an authority on gambling issues, says it is hard to fathom why a player would want $5,000 so readily at hand unless they had a very serious issue with poker machine gambling. He describes the other measure – raising the threshold for cheques or EFT to $5,000 – as “a recipe to ensure that problem gamblers … simply pour their winnings back into the machine ASAP”. But wait, that’s not all. In what the government argues is a counter-balance, there is a reduction from $10,000 to $7,500 in the maximum amount pokie players can insert and store in machines and an increase from three to six months in the minimum period problem gamblers can ban themselves from venues. If that looks like tokenism, that is because it is. Livingstone told me that the reduction from $10,000 to $7,500 is meaningless: This is supposed to be a harmless entertainment. Why on earth would you need to put $7,500 in a poker machine in a club or pub if it were genuinely merely harmless fun?

The only impact of this is to make money laundering slightly more difficult, but only slightly. He describes self-exclusion as a useful strategy for a small number of people, but says it is far more honoured in the breach than in the observance. The changes stem from a pre-election commitment by the NSW Liberals and Nationals to secure the support of Clubs NSW, the most powerful part of the lobby that mounted an expensive campaign to torpedo the Gillard government’s plans for gambling reform. The measures are spelled out in a memorandum of understanding that also includes a promise to “retain existing gaming machine operating conditions”, with any proposals for change requiring “rigorous assessment” and consultation. In other words, don’t dare lift a finger without telling us or we’ll hit you with another campaign. Needless to say, the public were not party to this agreement. There are some common themes in the backsliding by governments.

In Queensland, the Newman government also changed the rules to allow winnings of up to $5,000 to be paid in cash. Previously, jackpots could only be paid out by cheque and the cheque could not be cashed at the gambling venue for at least 24 hours – tougher rules than those that used to apply in NSW. Like the Baird Government, the Newman government justified this and a raft of other changes in the name of reducing red tape. Livingstone and his Monash University colleague Louise Francis had a different explanation in a report last year commissioned by the Anglican Church: This is clearly in the interests of EGM [electronic gaming machine or poker machine] venue operators and against the interests of people experiencing issues with gambling… In our opinion, this is a wholly detrimental measure that cannot be justified on ‘red tape reduction’ principles. Instead it appears intended to increase the likelihood that EGM users, especially problem gamblers who win substantial amounts, will, in all likelihood, lose those funds at the same venue.

The Queensland changes also increase the number of poker machines allowed under a club licence from 280 to 500, with a maximum of 300 at one venue. Livingstone and Francis said the likely effect would be to increase the average size of venues with poker machines and that it was well established that larger establishments generated more revenue per machine. “There is significant potential for exacerbating gambling related harm in vulnerable communities as a result of increasing allowable machine numbers in venues,” they said.

Last December, the Northern Territory Government announced an increase in the number of poker machines allowed in hotels from 10 to 20 and in clubs from 45 to 55. What of the $150,000 donation by the Australian Hotels Association to the governing Country Liberal Party before the last election? We have the word of Gaming Minister Peter Styles that it did not influence the Government’s decision. These measures are on top of the Abbott Government’s repeal last year, with Labor’s support, of the few measures that survived the onslaught from the clubs on the Gillard government.

They included limits on withdrawals from ATMs, the installation of so-called pre-commitment technology on replacement poker machines so as to allow players to nominate beforehand the maximum amount they were prepared to lose, and a trial of a mandatory pre-commitment scheme. Together, these decisions represent a big step in the wrong direction at a time when studies by the Productivity Commission and others have confronted us with the reality of problem gambling – bankruptcies, family break-ups, crime and suicide. Addiction to gambling is as much a public health issue as smoking or drug addiction. What governments have done is akin to re-introducing smoking in restaurants and bars.

Total gambling expenditure per head in Australia grew after inflation from $577 in 1986-87 to $1,179 in 2011-12. That meant total gambling losses of $20.5 billion in 2011-12, 84 per cent of it on gaming, with the rest on racing and sports betting. Considering Australians spend more per head on gambling than any other country, why are governments encouraging further growth of a harmful industry? Because government policy on gambling is compromised on multiple fronts. State and territory governments increasingly have relied on it for revenue, with their takings almost doubling after inflation to $5.5 billion in the 25 years to 2011-12.

With the growth of the industry has come the increase in the power of the clubs and hotel lobbies, and that power has included making political donations. In the Northern Territory, the Australian Hotels Association gave the same amount – $150,000 – to the Labor Party before the last election as to the Country Liberal Party. The last time there were meaningful measures to control gambling was in Victoria more than five years ago. They included a $5 maximum bet – a change Livingstone says was introduced without industry opposition. He adds that a $1 maximum would reduce the harmful effects of gambling, given that 80 per cent of problem gambling stems from poker machines. Among the politicians, only independents like Nick Xenophon and Andrew Wilkie are prepared these days to stand up to the gambling lobby.

Wilkie put a bill for $1 bets, among other measures, before Parliament last November but the Abbott Government refused to allow it to come up for debate. Xenophon plans to introduce into the spring session of Parliament a bill to apply restrictions to online gambling. This is emerging as a threat, even while the much larger one from poker machines remains to be tackled.

I remember reading these articles about a month ago, and was thinking about it again on the weekend with the bye in the AFL, as Richmond weren’t playing.  Many young men are struggling with gambling addiction, and the young men playing AFL are not exempt from the same attraction to sports betting and gambling or the associated problems.  With the amount of money they earn allowing for excessive disposable income, combined with too much spare time and the sports betting environment that surrounds the AFL, it is little wonder there are players who end up becoming addicted to gambling whilst trying to forge a career in the AFL.  With about 800 AFL players in the system across 18 clubs, there are 30 players with known serious gambling problems, which accounts for 3.75% of all the players, or an average of nearly 2 players a club.

The hidden danger in this issue is that an AFL player in debt and desperate for cash could influence the result of a game or a bet type in their favour.  And to think that the AFL would be exempt from this type of behaviour would be naive in the face of what Hansie Cronje and many other professional cricketers have done in the past.

Beaner

Reformed addict David Schwarz warns of major gambling problem in AFL

Tuesday 5 May 2015 – AAP

Former AFL star and high-profile reformed gambling addict David Schwarz wants government action on betting adverts, warning of a rapidly-growing problem among AFL players.

He has spoken to about 30 current players with serious gambling issues. Schwarz blew about $5 million because of gambling, but has not laid a bet for a decade. The former Demons key forward will soon front a revamped AFL program that aims to help players who are problem gamblers.

“I absolutely agree there is far too much advertising,” he told SEN. “But while it’s here and while it’s not legislated against, we have to deal with it as best we can. What we have to do is put pressure on governments to minimise advertising to the appropriate times, so the kids aren’t as influenced.”

Schwarz added that it would be counter-productive to put too many legal curbs on gambling. He said 99% of people gambled responsibly and it remains an individual choice.

“I understand that the gambling ads make up a big percentage of SEN, they make up a big percentage of the AFL,” he said. “But the last thing we want to do is drive betting underground. We need to have it regulated, so we can keep on top of irregular betting patterns.”

Schwarz said a key for the growing betting problem among AFL players is to drum the message into them right from when they join the TAC Cup Under-18 competition.

“When they get into the system, players need to understand the pitfalls – understand the things that can go wrong and how quickly it can escalate,” Schwarz told SEN. “It’s a really funny one, gambling, and people go ‘why don’t you just stop?’.

“But you can’t smell it, you can’t see it – it’s a little hidden thing that sneaks up on a lot of people. The last couple of years in particular, the increase of players and player managers and clubs, who are needing help and advice on how to help their players out, has been a real concern.”

Schwarz said it is no surprise that gambling would be an issue among AFL players. “These are young men who hit the key demographic for a lot of the problems out there,” he said.

“Many of them are young, single, they earn good money, they have a lot of spare time. So if you were to put together the perfect specimen for someone who might fall into a bit of strife, professional athletes hit the category most. They’re risk takers, they’re adrenaline junkies, they like the thrill.”

But he added that if problem gamblers receive the right help, they can stop. Schwarz said it was probably easier for AFL players to stop gambling, because they had club support around them.

“We have some great stories – players who have been right on the depths of despair,” he said. “Their financial position was in dire straits and they’ve turned it all around. They’ve turned it around really quickly.”

AFL players blowing thousands amid gambling epidemic labelled footy’s ‘hidden problem’

Mark Robinson – Herald Sun, May 05, 2015

A PUNTING epidemic has gripped the ranks of AFL players.

David Schwarz, a reformed gambling addict, who will front the AFL’s revamped gambling program, says he has talked to up to 30 current players with major gambling problems.

Horse racing and multi-bets placed across a range of sports, mostly American, are the biggest attraction.

The Herald Sun has learned of:

A PLAYER who dropped $30,000 in a day betting on horses.

ANOTHER player who lost $40,000 on a Saturday before playing the next day.

Schwarz said last night he had spoken to players who had lost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“It’s an escalating problem … it’s bordering on being an epidemic,’’ he said.

“I know players who have lost three-quarters of their wages in a month through gambling, which is hundreds of thousands over time.’’

Leading player manager Paul Connors last night said of gambling: “It’s the hidden problem in footy.’’

And an AFL club chief executive, who did not wish to be named, said last night: “After training, the players go home and they are bored and start betting. American sports, that’s what they bet on: the NFL, the NBA.’’

In late March team captains alerted the AFL to the growing crisis, warning gambling was the No.1 problem with players in their spare time.

Some players aren’t afraid to lose up to $100,000 a year gambling, Schwarz says.

But many players don’t inform their clubs or the AFL Players Association because they are scared their names will be made public.

The AFL will shortly announce a new range of measures to help players.

“Ultimately, one player struggling with a gambling problem is one too many,’’ said Andrew Dillon, the AFL’s general counsel.

“David Schwarz has approached the AFL and put forward a proposal for a progressive gambling support program for players and the wider AFL community that is under consideration.”

Schwarz said growing numbers of players were contacting him for help each season.

“It affects their football,’’ he said.

“I’ve spoken to a number of clubs, a number of players and player managers, and they believe it’s the biggest problem with the players.

“It varies from managers who are concerned about their player, to players who are fully blown problem gamblers.

“They are on the verge of losing everything, or have hit a point where they will never recover,” Schwarz said.

“They will walk out of the game without having accumulated anything, and they have been in the system for eight to 10 years.

“The mindset is, they believe they are going to earn big money, so if they lose $100,000 in a year it’s not a big deal.

“Some managers take full control of their money and give them an allowance each week,’’ Schwarz said.

It is interesting to think that it was actually illegal to bet on sports in Australia for a big part of our history.  Betting in the 19th Century was common on sports such as boxing and athletics, then in the late 19th Century and early 20th Century there was a broad campaign against gambling, and widespread bans on sports betting were imposed around Australia, which remained in place until the 1970s.

During the 70s, sports betting restrictions were slowly relaxed.  TABs experimented with betting options on sports events, including the Sydney to Hobart yacht race and one-day cricket matches from the World Series of Cricket, but this did not prove popular.

On-course bookies were then given freedom to take bets on Aussie Rules Football games, and the TAB also introduced Footy TAB.  Again, the small winning pools and limited betting options failed to capture the interest of the serious punter, who continued to be keener on placing large bets with SP bookies (‘Starting Price’ bookies, who were often unlicensed).

Sports betting started to grow in the 1990s when the government approved sports betting agencies to start operating out of Darwin in the Northern Territory.  By 2000 TABs and bookmakers were taking bets on numerous sports in all states and territories.  While sports betting in 1999 accounted for only 0.2% of total Australian gambling expenditure, it has grown significantly in the years since with the introduction of on-line and mobile betting, aggressive advertising campaigns and an influx of overseas sports betting agencies into the Australian gambling market.

In March 2008, with James Packer’s Crown Limited bankrolling it, Betfair won a unanimous High Court decision which deemed it unconstitutional to prohibit bookmakers from advertising in one state and operating in another. Betstar’s Alan Eskander claimed it was the most important thing to happen in 150 years of bookmaking in Australia.  Advertising has grown enormously since then, where the main agencies now have a major presence on TV, radio, newspapers, magazines and the Internet.  Many of the biggest sports bet companies also directly sponsor sports codes and teams, and their advertising is visible on the team’s websites, sporting grounds and scoreboards all across the country.

The following is a list of some of the Australian sports betting agencies and their relationship with sporting codes and clubs around Australia:

TAB Sportsbet is official partners with the AFL and the FFA.

Sportsbet is the official partner of the Newcastle Knights, Sydney Roosters and Collingwood football club, and is the approved betting partner of the AFL, NRL, Cricket Australia, Tennis Australia and Rugby Australia.

IASbet.com is the approved betting partner of AFL, NRL, Cricket Australia, Tennis Australia and Rugby Australia.

Sportingbet is an approved betting partner of the AFL, NRL, Cricket Australia, Tennis Australia and the V8 Supercars, and is a proud sponsor of the Carlton Football club and the Brisbane Broncos.

Betfair is the approved betting operator of Cricket Australia, AFL, NRL, ARL, PGA tour Australasia, the FFA, Australian rugby and tennis Australia.

Centrebet are the proud sponsors of the St Kilda football club, the Manly Sea Eagles, the Penrith Panthers, the St George Illawarra Dragons, and they are the approved betting partners of the NRL, AFL, cricket Australia, tennis Australian and the PGA tour.

Tom Waterhouse is an approved betting partner of the AFL, NRL, Cricket Australia, Tennis Australia, and Australian rugby.

Unibet is an approved betting partner of the AFL, NRL, Cricket Australia, Tennis Australia, PGA Australia and Australian rugby.

Luxbet proudly supports the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Cronulla Sharks, and is an approved sports betting operator of the NRL, AFL, tennis Australia, PGA golf and cricket Australia.

Bet365 don’t appear to have a relationship with any sporting code or club as yet.

A 2011 gambling report in the Economist indicated that, on average, every adult Australian loses just under $1300 per year. As a nation, we drop $22 billion per year on the punt, nearly five times what we spend on foreign aid. Furthermore, it was estimated that the revenue generated by sports betting in Australia would top $600 million by the end of 2011, up from $264 million in 2006. It is estimated that the sports betting share of the Australian gambling industry is growing annually at 24 times the rate of horseracing.

In Victoria alone, total gambling losses were estimated at $5.49 billion in 2011-12, which equates to just over $15 million a day. $2.49 billion of this was spent on poker machines, which means $3 billion dollars was spent in Victoria on other types of betting like horse racing and sports betting, which is just over $8.2 million dollars a day.

On the 1st August 2013, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) announced that sports bet operators could no longer promote live odds during sporting events, although normal sports betting ads could still be shown during the breaks.  This was no doubt in response to the uproar caused by bookmaker Tom Waterhouse’s efforts in sponsoring the NRL and Channel 9 in 2013 (for a reported $50 million over 5 years) and actively spruiking live odds during the NRL games back in March 2013 as one of the expert commentary team.  The NRL walked away from the deal after the controversy it caused, although they deny that the deal fell through due to the public backlash caused by Tom Waterhouse’s presence in the commentary box.

It is easy to see how much the sports betting industry has grown in Australia in recent years when you look at how many sports betting options there are now available to the punter, along with what markets you can actually bet on.

On Sportsbet, there are 30 different sports/ events you can bet on, and for the 2013 AFL Grand Final this weekend between Hawthorn and Fremantle there are 238 Markets.  238 different betting options for one game!

Along with the numerous sports and games like poker, most sports bet bookies also now take bets on pretty much any other event with an unknown outcome.  These are the Novelty markets for Sportsbet on 26th September 2013 (these are no joke):

Current Affairs Pope betting (who will be the next Pope after Francis I), Airport betting (the location of Melbourne’s 3rd airport, which airport will get approved next between Sydney and Melbourne, when the 2nd Brisbane airport will open), who will be the next permanent CEO of the NBN Co, when the Melbourne Star Wheel will be officially opened, which city will host the 2020 World Expo, which will be the first country to leave the European union, what the Apple share price will be at the end of the year, who will win the 2013 Noble Peace prize, who will be cast to play Edward Snowden in the film about the NSA whistle blower, what the starting price (in US dollars) for Twitter will be on the NASDAQ, and by what means Julian Assange will leave the Ecuadorian embassy.

Entertainment there are markets on Australian TV for the winner of Big Brother, Dancing with the Stars, The Voice, Australia’s Got Talent, X Factor, and which character will be killed off next in the TV show Offspring.

Financial what the new official interest rate will be when announced by the RBA on 1st October 2013.

Hollywood who will play the next James Bond, the main Academy Awards winners, who will play Berlusconi in the movie about him, and how much Wolf Creek 2 will make at the Australian box office in the opening weekend.

Music who will win the 2013 Mercury music prize, who will be the next artist to remove their music from Spotify, who will be the next Australian to sell 1 million copies of a single in the US, and who will be the first to leave One Direction.

Novelty Bets how many PS4s will sell in the first 10 days, there are 5 royal specials (baby George’s first words, sex of their 2nd child, name of the 2nd child, when the baby will be born, and who the next monarch will be), which country will have first contact with alien life, when will Shane Warne and Liz Hurley get married, what Dave Hughes next TV role/ job will be, and what the name of Simon Cowell’s baby will be.

Pageants Miss World winner

Politics there are 13 different markets for Australian and world politics, ranging from who will lead the Labour party to when same sex marriage will be introduced in Australia.

Sports Novelties who will be the 2013 BBC sports personality of the year, will QLD win 10 State of Origins in a row, who will win the South Pole Challenge, and which A-League club will have the most Twitter followers.

Weather 2013 Global Average Temperature anomaly.

Now the first thing that springs to my mind with these betting types is that for some of the markets, the outcomes will probably be known by someone before it is officially announced, and the fact that you can bet on it leaves it wide open for manipulation or corruption. And corruption in sports due to sports betting has been, and is going to be, an ongoing issue in all sports world wide.

Australians have almost forgotten that Shane Warne and Mark Waugh were caught up in a bookmaking scandal in India, and Hansie Cronje who was captain of South Africa was fixing matches and then later died plane crash, where there are suspicions he was murdered.

The most recent revelation of corruption in Australian sport was during September 2013 in the Victorian Premier League soccer, where police arrested 10 people associated with the Southern Stars Football Club, nine players and the coach, for their involvement in match fixing worth around $2 million dollars.

Australia sees itself as an honest country, but the mix of money and sport and greed has always allowed for sport to be compromised, and with sports betting becoming so widespread and commonplace in Australia, it seems likely that the VPL incident will not be the last of its kind in this country.

Beaner

References

Costello T & Millar R, Wanna Bet?, Allen & Unwin, St. Leonards, 2000.

http://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2011/november/1320384446/jonathan-horn/caught-game

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-08-01/restrictions-on-broadcasting-of-live-betting-odds-now-in-place/4857242

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-05-20/nrl-fails-to-agree-with-waterhouse-over-sponsorship-deal/4699252