Posts Tagged ‘gambling addiction’

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

 

It’s Spring carnival again and the betting agencies are lining up and throwing offers at punters left, right and centre.  It all sounds great with free betting and getting paid the win for finishing second and bonus bets and best tote odds etc.  Even with all that, most punters will lose money on the horses this Spring, and in worst case scenarios for punters, they will be on the path to gambling addiction – which is the best case scenario for the betting agencies.  This article has some tales of woe, plus the facts about Australia’s gambling habits.

Beaner

 

‘Three months, half a million bucks’: Paying the price for a punt

Nick Toscano

27th October 2018

In the front seat of his parked car, a middle-aged man sits dressed in his running clothes; collar unzipped, sunglasses above his forehead. It’s three o’clock in the afternoon and the middle of a drought in this part of Australia, so the air outside is warm and sunlight beams in through the rear windscreen glass.

Shuffling in his seat, Peter* begins explaining why he has to have this conversation here in his car instead of at home. For a moment, he can’t help but laugh. But the situation is far from funny, and his laughter trails off.

In the space of three months, Peter says he’s lost half a million dollars by gambling online. Every night, with multiple betting accounts on his smartphone, he’d been laying down huge sums on horse races – races in Australia, or Hong Kong, or wherever there was a race on. When there were no horse races left, he would bet on the greyhounds. If there were chickens running around, he’d probably have bet on them too. Having lost all control, he swiftly lost everything. And still, to this day, no one in his family knows about it.

“It was an absolute frenzy – bet, bet, bet, late into the night, early into the morning,” he recalls. “Three months, half a million bucks … it’s all gone now.”

Spring in their step

Springtime has arrived in Australia, and the spring racing season is in full swing. For the nation’s betting industry, this is the busiest period on the calendar. At pub terminals, at race tracks, on computers, tablets and mobile apps, hundreds of thousands of people will place a wager, just like they do every year. Over eight major race days, Australia’s biggest gambling company, ASX-listed Tabcorp, expects punters to turn over more than $1 billion.

The overwhelming majority of bets will be placed by ordinary people, betting moderately, betting for a bit of fun. The average amount is less than $20. For others, however, their betting is not so innocuous. According to recent research, an estimated 200,000 Australians are considered “problem gamblers”, that is, people who continue to gamble despite the dire impact it may be having on their lives.

Although Australians lose far less money betting on sport ($1.06 billion a year) and racing ($3.3 billion) than they do on pokies or casino games ($17 billion combined), the smartphone era has propelled online wagering into the fastest-growing form of gambling nationally – rocketing more than 15 per cent a year – a statistic that has some policymakers worried. The 24/7 availability of online gambling and the idea that digital transactions can seem “less real” have given rise to very real concerns that the danger of developing problematic gambling habits may be greater online.

“The majority of gambling in Australia happens in relatively controlled social environments like clubs, pubs, casinos and race tracks,” said Scott Morrison in 2015, when he was social services minister. “Online or interactive gambling creates vulnerabilities because it doesn’t share such limited controls and protections.”

Leading into Melbourne Cup week, with online bookmakers in fierce competition for market share, it is with these worries in mind that the rope is about to get tighter around the global online gambling giants here and the services they provide.

After three years and a series of delays, state and federal politicians are finalising a suite of new standards for the industry, aimed at tackling problem gambling risks online and beefing up protections for consumers.

Sportsbet, BetEasy, Ladbrokes, Bet365, Betfair and Unibet dispute the notion that problem gambling risks are greater online, arguing their technology provides punters tools to limit spending in a way that physical betting terminals cannot.

But they have been widely accepting of a series of concessions and, through their industry group Responsible Wagering Australia, have proactively helped government develop many of the incoming online gambling reforms, chief among them being a “national self-exclusion scheme” for people trying to quit gambling.

The first of its kind in Australia, the scheme will allow gamblers to ban themselves across state lines and across all betting sites at once on smartphones, computers and tablets. Also among the soon-to-be-introduced measures are a voluntary, opt-out pre-commitment system for punters to set their own limits, and a nationwide ban on bookies offering “inducements” to encourage people to open accounts.

Other figures on the frontline of the issue – such as problem gamblers themselves and the financial counsellors who assist them – are supportive of the new rules but argue the package doesn’t go far enough, fearing it falls short of what is truly needed to protect the vulnerable. One of the biggest omissions, they say, is that there is lack of enforceable requirements like in the United Kingdom for companies to take steps such as making checks on big-spending customers, monitoring their deposits and making sure they are safe.

“There is no clear duty on the company to take concrete steps to ensure their services are provided responsibly,” says Lauren Levin, the policy director of Financial Counselling Australia. “We are about five years behind the UK.”

‘It was just manic’

Just before his gambling spiralled out of control, Peter was in his 50s, recently divorced and had received a large payout following an accident. “I probably want to dodge a few points here,” he says, so as to not reveal his identity. “But when I got my payout, I was bored and lonely and started punting.”

Drinking heavily and taking powerful pain medication, he opened accounts with multiple online bookmakers including two of the biggest, Ladbrokes and CrownBet. His bets ranged from $10 or $20 to many thousands. In several instances, he wagered as much as $20,000 per race. Most nights, his account records show, he was turning over massive amounts of money, like clockwork, every couple of minutes.

“It was just manic,” he says. “I actually don’t remember most of it.”

After Peter began posting serious losses, some of the bookmakers’ software identified his erratic gambling patterns and cut him off. Others, however, did not, instead making him a “VIP customer” – rewarding his big spending with free bets and offers of tickets to sporting events.

“They were relentless, they’d do anything to keep you going … to see the money keep flowing in,” he says. “The only VIP I was to them was a ‘very important profit centre’.”

Every morning, he rolled out of his bed and reached for his mobile in fear, unable to remember what happened the night before. One morning, he saw $75,000 sitting in one of his betting accounts, down from $150,000. Although Peter has now stopped gambling, and self-excluded from the sites he once used, there is a familiar feeling of dread that still greets him daily.

“I literally wake up with heart palpitations every morning,” he says.

The most important change he believes is necessary in the current political push to stem gambling harm is a providing a pre-commitment scheme that is truly binding, not just for online wagering, but for all kinds of gambling. “Very few people can afford to lose $50,000 to $100,000 a day,” he says.

The new house where Jack* lives is nothing like his old one. Small and drab, it’s sparsely furnished and situated on a busy main road, the blare of traffic audible from inside. He appears from his kitchen holding a cup of tea and a tray of biscuits and apologises for the lack of space. A large window looks out to his driveway, where there is a disused car sitting idle that he can’t afford to repair. It’s cold inside. Jack is wearing a woolen jumper and loose blue jeans. His hair is white and cropped, his eyebrows thick and dark. He is aged is in his early 50s, but looks older. A lot has changed in the past 12 months.

“I’m not the same person I was, that’s for sure,” says Jack. “If I had lived here in this house three years ago, I’d have been terribly embarrassed.”

Jack was never a stranger to the punt. He would regularly stop at the TAB on the drive home from work, to put down $20 on whatever horse race was on.

When he lost his job of 21 years, and found himself with a large redundancy payout and hours to spare, things took a turn. His depression and anxiety worsened. Online gambling filled a void.

“When I sit here now with you, to me it just sounds totally insane,” he says. “I can’t even begin to think what sort of frame of mind I was in when I was sitting there with antidepressants, sleeping tablets, you know, a couple of cans of beer and $170,000 sitting in an account that I could just keep pumping into an online bookmaker in blocks of $10,000 and $20,000 at 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning, on races on the other side of the planet somewhere.”

Bottom of a pit

Over seven days, betting records show, Jack lost $125,000. Much like Peter’s experience, each day began in the grip of anxiety. “What the hell did I do last night?” he would ask himself. “That was the start of your day … waking up feeling like you’re at the bottom of a pit.”

Jack hates thinking about what he’s done, and all the money he’s lost – the money he should have been using to re-establish himself post-redundancy.

Although he unsuccessfully took his case to the regulator in the Northern Territory, the jurisdiction where most online bookmakers hold their licences, Jack blames himself mostly. It was, after all, his decision to gamble. “I got online and gambled it away,” he says, “but I think these bigger companies, too, have got some blame. They, and the government, should have some sort of safeguards to stop people like me from gambling erratically.”

Two months ago, when Scott Morrison replaced Malcolm Turnbull as prime minister, he overhauled the front bench. His appointment to the social services ministry – the role overseeing the new online wagering protections, the National Consumer Protection Framework – was Paul Fletcher, a former senior executive at Optus. Fletcher is the third minister to hold the portfolio in the past 12 months, prompting concerns that the momentum behind the online gambling legislation may be waning. But, speaking publicly on the topic for the first time as minister, Fletcher has moved to assure stakeholders that the package is in the “final stages” of agreements by all governments, and anticipates it it will be “announced shortly”.

‘Self-exclusion’ push

“The framework’s 10 measures will deliver strong, nationally consistent minimum protections for Australian using interactive wagering services,” he says. “All governments have worked extensively with industry, community sector organisations, academia and individuals who have experienced gambling harm to design the framework’s measures to ensure that the online gambling standards are raised nationally.”

Gambling-reform campaigners are urging the government to prioritise the framework before the federal election, particularly the national self-exclusion scheme, which they say is a “no-brainer”.

But some are already making the case for tougher reforms such as a national regulator as opposed to Australia’s patchwork state-based regulators, stricter rules around “bonus bet” offers, and greater onus on bookies to identify and act on potentially harmful betting behaviour. In the UK, they say, companies are legally required to gain a holistic picture of the source of wagering funds and critically assess a customer’s financial capacity, or face fines running into millions of pounds.

“The Brits are leaving us for dead on consumer protection for gamblers, with a decent national regulator, a raft of recent reform and more than $30 million worth of fines over the past two years,” says Susan Rennie, of the Alliance for Gambling Reform.

Financial Counselling Australia agrees, saying the global bookmakers are forced to comply with far tougher rules in the UK than in their Australian businesses.

“Gambling companies already have software to identify changes in gambling patterns,” says Levin. “The problem is that the problem gambler is also their cash cow, so there is a reluctance to do what they should do – intervene.”

The major online bookmakers reject this claim, stressing that they “don’t want to take a cent” from problem gamblers. Aside from social responsibility obligations, industry insiders insist it is not in their commercial interests for someone to lose heavily in a short period then never bet with them again. They would rather customers bet moderately, within their means and on an ongoing basis. As one insider puts it: “Smaller bets lead to more stable outcomes and more predictable margins.”

At the height of a public and political backlash in 2016, online wagering companies formed the lobby group Responsible Wagering Australia to lift standards in the industry and restore its social licence.

The group’s director, former Labor senator Stephen Conroy, says its members have been among the leading advocates for the new consumer-protection reforms.

“Ultimately, millions of Australians enjoy having a punt and do so responsibly,” says Conroy. “What is important is to ensure there are effective tools available to assist people to continue wagering in a responsible way as well as effective permanent self-exclusion for those that have serious gambling problems.”

Tabcorp, which runs retail and online wagering services, has also supported the incoming framework, and says it has “long argued for a consistent approach” to gambling regulation. “We believe these changes will bring about a more balanced and responsible way in which betting is promoted and offered,” a spokesman said.

A few years ago, Gary* sustained an injury. A bad one. He was put under the knife in eight separate surgeries. It was quickly decided he wouldn’t return to his job full-time, but would eventually return part-time. “I haven’t worked a day since,” he says. “I haven’t been able to go back.”

As a younger man, Gary worked at a racecourse, and even had his wedding there. He had long been surrounded by horse racing and gambling. “But it had certainly never taken the toll or taken me to the places that I went to two years ago,” he says.

“When I was home after those surgeries and it became available on my phone, it was almost like Christmas had come … there were so many options, so many betting agencies.”

With two of his betting accounts, he decided to set limits on how much he could deposit, to make sure he “didn’t go overboard”. But with the third– Tabcorp’s now-defunct Luxbet – he had no limit in place. Instead, he requested a $1000 overdraft facility.

“There were some periods there where I was on some very serious medication, and I’d go 24 hours straight, I wouldn’t stop, the money would just keep going in – deposit, deposit deposit,” he recalls. Over several months, he lost about $130,000 “There was never any action, any intervention, to stop me.

“I’m not blaming anybody, I know that was my responsibility,” he says, “but it’s the way they allowed me to do it without any oversight in anyway.”

The Morrison government says the reforms will be “progressively” rolled out within 18 months. It will be too late for this Melbourne Cup, but some hope the national self-exclusion register, could be in force in time for next year’s.

“In spring racing season 2019, Australians will be expecting to see the sails of the Sydney Opera House emblazoned with graphics promoting the new online gambling self-exclusion register,” says Levin. “Now who do we call for publicity and endorsement? The PM, Alan Jones, or both?

* Names have been changed

https://www.theage.com.au/business/companies/three-months-half-a-million-bucks-paying-the-price-for-a-punt-20181026-p50c5u.html

So when the president of the Hawthorn football club and Beyond Blue talks about the dangers of sportsbetting, we should take it seriously.  Nevermind his club collects the most money from poker machines of any AFL team, where poker machines have caused gambling addiction and wrecked lives ever since they were introduced into Victoria… by Kennett.

Beaner

 

‘Biggest scourge’: Kennett takes aim at AFL’s betting stance

Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett has lashed the AFL over its stance on sports betting, which he described as the “biggest scourge in our community”.

The former Victorian premier believes issues associated with gambling have overtaken mental health as the biggest challenge in the game, while his Greater Western Sydney counterpart Tony Shepherd has called for more regulation.

Kennett, whose club collects more money from poker machines than any other in the league, is concerned about the volume of betting advertising during broadcasts of games.

The AFL has an estimated $10 million deal with corporate sports bookmaker Crownbet, which runs live odds on the league’s website during games, while broadcasters Channel Seven and Fox Footy have their own betting partners.

Kennett described betting on sport and horseracing as a “very serious gambling threat”.

“I hold the AFL not responsible, partly responsible, I think sports betting is the biggest scourge in our community at the moment,” Kennett said at a business lunch in Melbourne run by club sponsor Bingo.

“It’s not restricted in terms of its promotion and advertising in the same way casinos or gaming machines are.

“So you’re now not only getting players but you’re getting children who are being indoctrinated from an early age to believe their future or future success and future wealth will come from gaming. The AFL is a major beneficiary from the money paid from sports betting.”

The federal government’s ban on gambling advertising during all live sports broadcasts between 5am and 8.30pm came into effect in March. The move is designed to reduce children’s exposure.

Kennett believes the widespread access to bookmakers on mobile phones is contributing to the problem.

“They train for a couple of hours, have an hour down, not long enough to leave the environment where they’re at, so they get on the new devices and that has caused a lot of trouble to a lot of players,” Kennett said.

“So they finish their career without anything at all in terms of cash. We’re very aware of that at Hawthorn … but it’s very hard to educate and encourage young men who are earning a lot of money what they can do in the privacy of their own time.”

Former players Brendan Fevola, Brent Guerra and Daniel Ward are among those who have spoken publicly about their gambling addictions.

Shepherd described betting as a “disease” in the sporting codes.

“This gambling issue could impact the integrity of the game in future. I see it as a significant issue that has to be dealt with,” Shepherd, a former president of the Business Council of Australia, said.

“I’m an anti-regulation person but I think regulation is probably the only answer.”

The AFL defended its betting partnerships, saying they helped the league in their integrity measures by giving them access to betting records of participants.

“The reason we have our agreements with various wagering partners is so the AFL can monitor all betting transactions in Australia, including whether players or officials are betting for integrity purposes,” an AFL spokesman said.

By Andrew Wu

2 August 2018 — 8:56pm

 

https://www.theage.com.au/sport/afl/biggest-scourge-kennett-takes-aim-at-afl-s-betting-stance-20180802-p4zv5s.html

If you watch any free to air TV you are likely to have seen a Sportsbet Ad – “Hey fellas!”  These are on regularly over the weekend and during footy games that are broadcast by Ch 7.  If you listen to SEN1116, every morning they cross to someone from Sportsbet, or whoever is paying them for time to get an update on the odds for the next round.  This has become so normalised that betting and the AFL have become synonymous with each other.  The AFL lists Crownbet as one of their Official partners (while ironically also having Carlton Draft and Drinkwise as partners), so when you look at the upcoming games on their website, Crownbet have the odds ready for you, and if you click on one of the odds by mistake, you get taken straight to a betslip on the Crownbet page.  I wonder how many kids have done that, wishing they had $10 to bet on their favourite team….

Beaner

 

Sport and betting don’t have to go together, but kids don’t know that

By Louise Glanville

22nd July 2018

By the time they are teens, and certainly before they reach adulthood, kids in Victoria are being influenced by an industry with deep pockets.

Awkward conversations with tweens about everything from smoking and alcohol to sex and drugs have become a fact of life. Uncomfortable? Maybe. Necessary? Without a doubt.

And so it is these days with yet another, perhaps less obvious, public health issue; gambling.

Remember when you could watch sport without seeing a gambling ad? The thing is, kids don’t.

Bombarded by an excess of ads, invitations, promotions and inducements delivered via smartphone, TV, computer, billboards and at matches, a large majority — 75 per cent — of kids aged 8–16 years believe that betting on sport is normal.

By 18, many have started betting themselves, unaware or ill-equipped to manage the associated risks and potential harms, which range in manifestation and severity but typically involve one or a combination of financial hardship, emotional distress, family conflict and difficulty with work or study.

Sport-related gambling turnover soaring

The turnover from sport-related gambling in Victoria has increased significantly over the past decade and is putting young men, especially, at greater risk of gambling harm.

This is borne out by newly released research led by Dr Rebecca Jenkinson of the Australian Institute of Family Studies, Weighing up the odds: Young men, sports and betting, which looked at the motivations, attitudes and behaviours of 18–35-year-old men exposed to gambling advertising.

An alarming, but not surprisingly high proportion (70 per cent) of the 335 bettors in the quantitative study of more than 400 young men were found to be at risk of, or already experiencing, gambling harm. Of these, 15 per cent were considered to be over the threshold for “problem gambling” as measured by the Problem Gambling Severity Index, a tool for estimating a person’s risk of gambling problems and, consequently, harm.

Eighty-one per cent reported having used at least one form of betting promotion in the previous 12 months, such as sign-up bonuses (58 per cent) and multi-bets (49 per cent). And two-thirds (64 per cent) said they had bet on sports while affected by alcohol, half of whom spent more money or placed more bets than they would have had they not been drinking.

Bettors who gambled weekly were significantly more likely to spend more on bets across more sports, use multiple online betting accounts, be motivated by boredom and chase losses — all warning signs of harm.

So what does this tell us?

Kids targeted by gambling industry with deep pockets

By the time they are teens, and certainly before they reach adulthood, kids are being influenced by an industry with deep pockets that, according to the Standard Media Index, spent $234.5 million on gambling advertising in Australia in 2016, up from $89.7 million in 2011, excluding sponsorships and in-program content. It’s no wonder young adults are engaging in risky gambling and experiencing harm.

While both state and Commonwealth governments have recently taken action to address where and when the gambling industry can promote its products, the community too has a responsibility to ensure that young people have the knowledge and tools they need to think critically, and make informed choices, about gambling.

As part of her research, Dr Jenkinson also conducted interviews with a small sample of CEOs and regional general managers of Victorian sporting clubs and leagues, parents and bettors.

The majority felt there was a need for greater regulation of sports betting advertising, and most noted that sports betting was too easily accessible, especially for those who might be experiencing harm.

Clubs must help members make informed gambling choices

Interestingly, all of the sports administrators interviewed believed that sporting leagues and clubs should play a role in supporting members to make informed choices about gambling.

The Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation is partnering, through our Love the Game program, with elite soccer, rugby union, cricket and all 10 Victorian AFL clubs, as well as 300 community sporting clubs, to counter the normalisation of gambling in sport.

The decision by these clubs to reduce the exposure of fans and players to sports betting advertising, and thereby challenge the assumption that sport and betting go hand-in-hand, demonstrates the importance they place on this issue. I applaud their commitment.

This weekend’s dedicated AFL Victoria Love the Game Round provides an opportunity for all Victorians — fans and players alike — to share and celebrate as a community all the things we enjoy about footy, which have nothing to do with gambling.

And it offers an ideal opening for parents, teachers, coaches and other influential adults to talk to the kids in their care about gambling risks and harms so that they can develop a balanced, realistic understanding of how gambling works.

You and I know that sport and betting don’t have to go together. It’s time to let kids know that, too.

Love the game, not the odds.

Louise Glanville is CEO of the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation.

http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2018-07-22/sports-gambling-afl-sporting-clubs-favour-kids-over-betting/10011962?section=sport

Although this article is about poker machines, the same psychology applies to all forms of gambling.  And you only to have watch films like Owning Mahowny (2003) to see the joylessness of gambling addiction, where winning becomes irrelevant, and money becomes meaningless.  The only impulse left in the brain is just to keep gambling, to stay in the zone forever.

Beaner

 

Gambling addiction: Enter the ‘zone’ where winning is a distraction

By Diane Dean

Our brains are naturally configured to get pleasure out of some of the things we do. That’s why we survive.

Pleasure drives us to hit some crucial day-to-day goals, such as finding and eating food.

But the system as a whole is more complicated than that; it’s not all about tangible rewards.

We can spend an awful lot of time pursuing a pleasurable experience that is far from “mission critical” — like discovering how a piece of machinery is assembled, or nutting out the pattern to a sequence of symbols.

This kind of puzzle can be frustrating, but the pleasure of eventually solving it spurs us on — and crucially, our brains process the anticipation of that understanding as a form of pleasure.

Chemically, even though we’ve done nothing useful, this is the same reward we get for achieving a survival goal.

And it’s that anticipatory pleasure pathway which goes into overdrive when we gamble. It can lead us to a place that addicts call “the zone”, where even winning the jackpot is a distraction from the game.

A well studied, very ingrained system

Dr Charles Livingstone, a gambling researcher from Monash University’s School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, says the brain’s method of producing these rewards has a lot to do with two well-known forms of psychological conditioning.

The first is operant conditioning — made famous by psychologist BF Skinner in the 1950s.

Skinner experimented with pigeons, and noted that they would readily peck at a spot if they were rewarded with food. Crucially, the reward was not given at every peck; that allowed Skinner to investigate what he called the “schedule of reinforcement”.

“Skinner used rats and pigeons but humans are equally susceptible,” says Dr Livingstone.

“If you give them a predictable set of rewards, then they lose interest quite quickly; if it’s unpredictable, they tend to establish behaviour which is very hard to extinguish.”

The second manipulation is called classical conditioning — discovered way back in the 19th century by Anton Pavlov. He found that feeding a dog, and associating that food with a sound, meant that the dog would eventually salivate at the sound alone.

According to Dr Livingstone, gambling machines wrap together both types of conditioning: they offer rewards at unpredictable intervals, and they pair those rewards with encouraging noises and lights.

Designing for dopamine — the brain’s internal bribe

“In recent times we’ve discovered that the mechanism by which these two principles operate is through the brain’s reward circuit,” he explains.

The critical neurochemical in that circuit is dopamine; it gets secreted both when we anticipate a reward, and when we get one.

“This is a very old part of the brain, so animals like rats and pigeons and all sorts of animals are in exactly the same position as we are,” says Dr Livingstone.

“And it works because it provides you with a sense of euphoria and a reward sense — which is necessary when you are scrapping for survival out on the veldts of Africa.”

It’s also highly addictive. The dopamine release is what keeps people going back to addictive drugs like cocaine, Dr Livingstone says.

And over the past 100 years or so, the architects of gambling environments have become masters at utilising this chemical cycle in our brain — to the extent that gamblers really don’t welcome anything which disrupts it, because it takes them out of their “zone”.

“The zone was very much about flow and rhythm and repetition and just continuing,” says Natasha Schull, a cultural anthropologist who spent many hours in the casinos of Las Vegas researching the design of gambling environments and the way gamblers behave.

She spoke to addicts who said winning a jackpot just made them feel annoyed.

“When they won, the machine would make a lot of jingling noises, it would freeze up and play victorious music, sometimes people would look over at them… Essentially it interrupted the zone.”

A parallel universe with real-world consequences

Carolyn Hirsh is a former Victorian MP and psychologist, and was also a self-confessed gambling addict. She remembers the power of that psychological conditioning in action.

“There’s the music, there is the sound when you win, and you think ‘I’ve won’, although you haven’t — you’ve actually lost. But music plays,” she says.

“People come around and give you free coffee and look after you, there’s that nice feeling. But … I think the real thing is the way the machines are designed alters the brain.”

These changes to the gambling brain can do a lot of damage. Being in “the zone” means being in an alternate universe, where family and responsibility don’t seem important.

There’s even data to show an association between areas with a large number of poker machines and the rates of particular kinds of crime, Dr Livingstone says.

“The harms of gambling include separation, fraud, financial disaster, divorce, violence and neglect of children,” he says.

“They are associated with mental and physical ill health, and of course ultimately with suicide. Most people who experience gambling harm are too ashamed to admit that they have succumbed to such a silly addiction, as they see it.”

The debate around these harms, and who is responsible, is intensifying.

Help for individuals is available through crisis support bodies, but the effect on communities means that gaming industry methods are inevitably drawn into the political arena.

Poker machines are shaping up to be an electoral issue in Tasmania as community groups, councils, unions and professional associations call for the machines to be removed from some venues.

And a former addict is suing a casino and a pokie manufacturer, arguing that a particular machine is deceptive and addictive.

With so many stakeholders in how the pokies operate, however, there’s no obvious or easy fix for the problem.

Meanwhile, for those who gamble, the hard-wired allure of “the zone” is not going anywhere.

 

Australia has the highest rates of problem gambling in world, and the normalising of it through advertising and imbedded dialogue during live sport is going to affect generations to come.  Is it possible anymore to watch a game of AFL without a refence to the odds and the sportsbet favourite, from the commentators to the ads to the cuts to Sportsbet?

Beaner

 

Online, interactive sports gambling addiction takes heavy toll on young men, says Tim Costello

While poker machines have been a perennial concern for problem gambling among older Australians, there is a slick and deceptive juggernaut quickly taking hold of young men — sports gambling.

According to Alliance for Gambling Reform spokesperson Tim Costello, the nature of watching live sport as a young man in Australia has changed dramatically.

Men are no longer taking an interest in just whether their team wins, they are financially invested in games they might have never watched because they have a wager on the outcome.

“Sports betting is the fastest growing level of addiction,” Mr Costello said.

“Pokies target middle-aged women who are invited to go to a club, dress up and someone opens the door for you and you sit there and devastate your life.

“Sports betting targets young men and that’s a rapidly growing area of addiction.”

Mr Costello’s thoughts have been echoed by an Australian Gambling Research Centre report into interactive gambling, which states that sports and race wagering are the dominant forms of interactive gambling in Australia, and interactive gamblers are more likely to be young men.

It is one of the key issues that will be discussed today at the University of Wollongong’s Innovation Campus for The Spectrum of Gambling Harms Seminar.

Governments to blame for sports betting rise: Costello

Mr Costello said Australia had the highest rates of problem gambling in world, as well as being home to 20 per cent of the world’s poker machines.

He rejected the concept that betting was part of the Australian character, and has levelled the blame for the prevalence of gambling in Australia at state governments.

“The immoral failure of state governments to protect the vulnerable and instead allow more pokies is one of the big reasons [for problem gambling in Australia],” he said.

“Incessant sports betting and the lax rules that allow kids to be targeted with what are gambling products when the footy and cricket are on — that’s another one of the reasons.”

But Clubs NSW spokesperson Anthony Ball said the majority of people who played poker machines did it safely and within their budget.

”There’s a small fraction of the population that doesn’t and we’ve been committed to looking for ways to help people who do have a problem to help themselves,” he said.

“Australians are punters and it’s part of our history and culture and there’s no doubt pokies are a popular form of recreation for the working-class man.”

He said problem gambling rates in NSW had been falling and were below one per cent of the adult population.

“Clubs for a decade have been heavily invested in providing education for their staff and becoming better at identifying problematic behaviour.

“There is an abundance of information and people to talk to, and we want them to understand how poker machines work and allow people to exclude themselves using a web-based interface — every club with gambling does that and they care about their members.”

How interactive gambling can take hold

While a poker-machine player has the gatekeeper of a club employee, when it comes to interactive gambling it is done in private and on phones and home computers.

A problem gambler can place bets quietly and repeatedly without anyone seeing them to identify that there is something wrong.

ABC RN contributor Leigh shared his story of gambling addiction that eventually saw him convicted for fraud after stealing $130,000 from his employer to fuel his addiction.

“The bets would range anywhere between $5,000 and $20,000 a day. I would bet until 3:00am, try to sleep for three hours and bet again for another three hours on online racing in the United States,” he said.

“I always thought the stereotypical gambling addict was a working-class, middle-aged man or woman, sitting at their local club, feeding their favourite pokies machine four or five nights a week, but I rarely ventured into the local TAB.”

Mr Costello said each problem gambler in Australia will lose about $1,100 dollars per year, which is the highest in the world.

Singapore is next highest for losses ($800), then Ireland ($600).

“Having done this for 20 years, you start to think ‘maybe it’s time to give up’, but the encouraging thing is that we now are seeing such disgust from the public at sports betting,” Mr Costello said.

“We’re going to get a ban on sports betting ads before 8:30 at night, and that’s pressure the Federal Government has been brought under, so that’s a win.”

 

By Justin Huntsdale

Posted 6 Sep 2017

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-09-06/sports-gambling-taking-hold-of-young-men/8877420

The amount of gambling advertising our kids are being exposed to on a daily basis would make it seem like gambling is now just a normal part of sport.

By making it seem normal, we don’t consider the risks in the same way we have in the past. And young people don’t always realise the difference between ads and reality, seeing betting as a quick, easy way to make money.

Gambling is seen as a normal part of sport, but it doesn’t have to be.

There are a number of myths surrounding gambling. Let’s debunk a few of them.

Myth 1

Sports betting ads don’t encourage kids to want to gamble as they’re not targeted to them.

Research found nearly a quarter of adolescents said they are more likely to gamble on other forms of gambling after seeing sports betting advertisements1

Myth 2

Adults are more exposed to gambling than kids.

Research found that exposure to gambling advertising was higher for 13 to 17 year olds than adults2

Myth 3

Betting on sports isn’t as risky as other forms of gambling because it involves skill.

Knowing a lot about a certain game of sport doesn’t guarantee a win. The best goal scorer doesn’t always kick the most goals, the favourite in a horse race doesn’t always win. It doesn’t matter how much you know, or your perceived “skill” level, because there’s no such thing as a sure bet.

Exert from: http://www.lovethegame.vic.gov.au/

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.

$814 million was lost on sportsbetting in 2014-15, which equates to $2 230 137 being lost by punters on sports EVERY DAY in Australia.

So if you think you can beat the system then well done and good luck for the future, as the hard evidence clearly shows that a lot of money is being lost by people betting on sports.  With the odds structures always favouring the sports betting agencies, they are taking their cut whether you win or lose, and then with the fickle nature of sports results, picking a winner is still no easier.

The only recommendation I can make to those who enjoy a punt on sports is to bet smart, look for value and ‘good bets’ and seek help if you are losing more than you are winning beyond the budget you have set for yourself.

Beaner

 

Punters lose $23 Billion

Richard Willingham and Benjamin Preiss
Published: August 22, 2016 – 8:02PM

Australian punters lost nearly $23 billion last year, with a 30 per cent growth in sports betting helping to drive a continued rise in annual gambling losses.

New Australian Gambling Statistics figures show Australians lost $1241 per head in 2014-15, with poker machines still the biggest cause of punter losses with $11.6 billion lost, an increase of 4.9 per cent.

The continued growth of punter losses reignited calls for state and federal governments to get serious about tackling problem gambling through action on sports betting advertising and pokies.

The annual compilation of all state and territory data shows that total expenditure, or gambler losses, hit $22.7 billion in 2014-15, an increase of 7.7 per cent on the previous financial year.

There has been an explosion in sports betting, with the sector growing by 30.1 per cent in 12 months – with predictions the exponential growth will continue.

But sports betting is still one of the smallest segments of the market, worth $814 million, compared to pokies, racing ($2.8 billion), and Lotto ($1.7 billion).

Traditional betting on racing was the smallest growing sector at just 2.7 per cent.

The Victorian government on Sunday announced a ban on betting ads near schools and on public transport, while Canberra is moving to crack down on offshore bookies, as well as strengthen consumer protection for local online punters.

There are also renewed calls from Senator Nick Xenophon, the Greens and Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie for poker machine reform.

Gambling losses in total for Victoria hit almost $5.8 billion in the 2014-15, with poker machine losses surpassing $2.5 billion, propping up Treasury coffers by more than $1 billion.

In NSW, punter losses hit $8.9 billion, with $5.7 billion lost on the pokies alone, sports betting worth $162 million and racing $945 million.

Across the nation casinos raked in $5.1 billion of gambler losses, with Melbourne’s Crown Casino hauling in $1.8 billion.

Monash University Public Health expert Charles Livingstone said the growth in sports betting losses was “phenomenal”.

“It demonstrates why we need to better regulate promotion and advertising. Otherwise we’re facing big growth in gambling problems and harm from young men and women,” Dr Livingstone said.

“But the 600-pound gorilla of Australian gambling is still the pokies: $12 billion in losses per year, and still growing, year after year. If we’re worried by sports betting, we should be 13 times more worried about the pokies.”

Alliance for Gambling Reform spokesman Tim Costello said state governments could fix the “poker machine madness”

“[That is] if any of them really cared about the issue,” he said.

The Australian Gambling Statistics 2014-15 shows that in Victoria total per person gambling losses hit $1250. Pokies losses was the biggest segment with $558 lost per Victorian.

In NSW, per person losses were higher at $1517.

Human Services Minister Alan Tudge said the rate of problem gambling in the online sector was three times that of other areas.

“Many Australians love to gamble but we have to make sure the gambling environment is a safe one – that’s why we are cracking down on illegal offshore gambling providers and introducing much strong consumer protection for online gambling,” Mr Tudge said.

Deakin University associate professor of public health, Samantha Thomas, suspected sports betting had grown on the back of heavy marketing.

“While not all losses equal harm, a lot of them do. It’s time for governments to start to seriously consider the factors that are contributing to these growing losses and implement effective evidenced-based strategies to reduce harm,” she said.

“This includes addressing the factors from industry, such as prolific advertising or high intensity poker machines, that may be contributing to harm. Clearly, ‘gamble responsibly’ strategies are not having an impact on reducing losses or preventing harm.”

Victorian Gaming Regulation Minister Marlene Kairouz said the state government shared the community’s concerns about problem gambling. She said the government had invested $150 million over four years to support problem gambling services.

This story was found at: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/australian-punters-lose-23-billion-half-on-the-pokies-20160822-gqyiz5.html