Posts Tagged ‘gambling psychology’

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

 

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.

c4sz-bfuoaaoflh

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

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-22/social-media-games-potential-gateway-to-problem-gambling/7346018

By Norman Hermant

People who play simulated gambling games for free online are more likely to become problem gamblers in real life, according to a report from the Australian Gambling Research Centre (AGRC).

Report’s key findings:

  • Children are more exposed to gambling than ever before
  • Online games are blurring the lines between simulated and real gambling
  • The games create unrealistic expectations about real-life gambling

The report also said the easy access to free gambling games on smart phones and tablets was a major concern.

The AGRC — part of Federal Government’s Australian Institute of Family Studies — said more and more people saw gambling as a part of everyday life and they were being exposed to gambling at younger ages than ever before.

“Young people today are growing up around these electronic games,” said Anna Thomas, one of the authors of the Is It Gambling Or A Game? report.

“This is introducing gambling to them at a much younger age than you’d normally expect.”

The report — a compilation of online gambling related research over the last 15 years — said the proliferation of gambling games raised a number of red flags:

  • Because the online games are so realistic, the lines between simulated gambling and real life “commercial” gambling are increasingly blurred.
  • Simulated gambling is accessed increasingly through social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Players are heavily exposed to commercial gambling site advertising on these sites.
  • In simulated games, players are protected from the consequences of losing — they can just play again if their luck turns. That creates unrealistic expectations of gambling in real life.

“That’s the danger of these kinds of games,” said Jake Newstadt, who sought help for his gambling problems two years ago.

“They kind of plant potential messages inside of us that we’re not really aware of.”

 

‘It can become quite addictive’: reformed gambler

Mr Newstadt, 25, started gambling at age 12.

He now works as a project worker helping problem gamblers. He is not surprised by the popularity of simulated gambling games — everything from slot machines, to roulette, to online poker.

“On some level, these games do the same thing as real gambling,” he said.

“They trigger something in the brain where there’s this moment of anxiety about not knowing whether this result is going to go our way or not … and that pattern can become quite addictive.”

The AGRC report also raised concerns about online games that disguise their gambling components.

These games have nothing to do with gambling as a central theme. But they have opportunities to gamble embedded in the game.

The wildly popular online game Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) is largely a first person shooter.

But players quickly learn the action is also a platform for numerous gambling games.

“They don’t explicitly say it, but that’s definitely what it is,” said 19-year-old Ashley Walton, who has been playing CS:GO for three years.

In CS:GO, players can purchase keys for around $3. The keys open digital cases, which reveal “prizes” a player can win — mostly different kinds of weapons to use in the game.

In a display box on the screen, the potential prizes slide by until one stops in the prize window.

“That was probably the first time I actually dabbled in gambling with real money,” said Mr Walton.

There is no limit on how many keys a player can buy. The prizes vary in value in an off-site digital aftermarket, where buyers will pay up to $1,000 for very rare items.

But Mr Walton said most of the prizes were worth less than the $3 the keys cost.

“The appeal for me was I just wanted to make money from it, while getting the items I wanted,” he said.

“But that fell through.”

Most parents unaware of simulated gambling

Anna Thomas from The Australian Gambling Research Centre said most parents were not aware of the gambling features embedded in many games.

“It can be a game that overtly has nothing to do with gambling,” she said.

“You may have no idea that (your kids) are actually going into a room … and having that experience in another game that’s really something completely different to gambling.”

One of the report’s key recommendations is much more thorough regulation of these games.

Currently, computer games are regulated by the Commonwealth’s Classification Board.

“There’s a need for much more consistent and comprehensive information and advice,” Ms Thomas said.

“You might have the same game that on one platform is rated M, on another platform may have no rating at all, or 12 plus. Very little information to guide players or parents who are looking at the games that their children are playing.”

 

AAP
April 3, 2016 7:45 PM

WHATEVER the solution to the AFL’s vexed issue of betting, League chief executive Gillon McLachlan is adamant it is not prohibition.

McLachlan admits there is some unease within the AFL about whether the League and its clubs should benefit from betting revenue, given the well-known social problems of gambling addiction.

But he added that there was a balance on issues such as gambling advertising at matches.

McLachlan said the AFL had worked with TV broadcasters so there were no live odds shown while the game was being played.

“People’s views are different – a number of people have very strong views about wagering,” he told ABC radio on Sunday.

“I have a view that is not universal around the AFL … that things that are legal and part of our game, our job is then to contextualise that.

“I’m also real about wagering – we are better off having relationships with wagering companies than not because we get access to information.

“We can protect the integrity of our competition.”

McLachlan added the revenue from gambling sponsorship helped the game’s growth but said it was an issue debated “reasonably regularly” at League headquarters.

He also said there is evidence that betting habits are changing, rather than more people are gambling on sport.

“The data basically is that betting is not growing, it’s just skewing from racing across to sport,” he said.

“The runaway train that people are talking about is not reflected in the numbers, (they’re) referring to a change.

“Maybe that means there’s a different profile of the people who are betting.

“I’m not in denial of the problem … the solutions are not as easy as people would think.”

With the idea being manufactured that gambling and AFL go hand in hand, the AFL is willingly normalising sports betting as an integral part of being an AFL fan.  Generations of young Australians will grow up believing that betting on the footy is a normal part of being an AFL fan, and the AFL is allowing this due to the revenue they generate from their affiliation and sponsorship with the sports betting companies.  Personally I think it is totally irresponsible to put the dollar ahead of the welfare of a generation of punters who could potentially have any number of gambling problems and addictions in the future.

Beaner

Gambling ads dominate AFL’s round one broadcasts

Richard Willingham.  April 1, 2016

Despite a community backlash, gambling advertising continues during TV broadcasts.

Football fans watching round one on TV were bombarded with gambling advertising, with more than one in six ads promoting gaming.

Despite a ban on ads for gambling during game time, data shows it was the second biggest advertising category over the four AFL games shown on free-to-air TV in Melbourne last weekend. Automotive was the biggest advertiser.

Of the nearly 200 ads screened in the Richmond v Carlton, Sydney v Collingwood, Port Adelaide v St Kilda, and Geelong v Hawthorn matches, 34 were for gambling.

CrownBet, the “official wagering partner of the AFL”, accounted for half of the advertising, with other bookies including Sportsbet and Bet365.

There has long been community concern about the proliferation of gambling ads. This is particularly so in sport, where experts have raised concerns that the association between sports and betting is “grooming” children by normalising betting.

Under an industry code of conduct, gambling promotion is banned “siren to siren” but is allowed to be screened before and after matches and during quarter and half-time breaks.

The Victorian government and many interest groups have urged the review of online gambling laws to look at stronger rules governing gambling advertising. Its report has yet to be released.

Samantha Thomas, a public health academic at Deakin University, said gambling was “a very adult product” which was being prolifically marketed in matches promoted by the AFL as being “family friendly”.

“There is a very clear ethical tension here that the AFL and broadcasters have not adequately addressed,” Dr Thomas said. “Kids tell us that it is the marketing that they see during sport that makes them think that gambling is a normal part of sport.”

“The AFL and broadcasters need to respond to community concerns and start to show some leadership in this area; putting the welfare of the community over the money they are making from gambling sponsorship deals.”

Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation chief executive Serge Sardo said there was widespread concern about the relationship between sport and betting.

“We are concerned that gambling advertising is changing the way our youth view spot; we are worried about the long-term impact,” Mr Sardo said.

The foundation wants gambling advertising banned from all G-classified TV programs.

The Alliance for Gambling Reform chairman Geoff Lake has demanded the TV networks stop advertising gambling to children.

“It’s that simple,” he said. “This normalises an adult product in the minds of young and impressionable footy fans. If the networks aren’t careful, they could end up killing the golden goose, with parents just turning the TV off.”

The Australian Wagering Council said gambling advertising had to comply with a code of conduct.

“Australian Wagering Council members do recognise community concern in relation to wagering advertising and agree that advertising should always conform to accepted social standards,” a spokeswoman said.

“AWC members will continue to work with sport’s controlling bodies and government to address any concerns.”

Melbourne Football Club has become the ninth Victorian footy club to sign Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation’s responsible gambling charter, which includes a ban on a partnership with any sports betting agency or gambling promotion.

The charter has been criticised because most AFL clubs have poker machine venues, but the foundation says the charter requires extra levels of responsibility in pokies.

The AFL said it had no role in the operation of the broadcasting code, but it was the league’s understanding that broadcasts always adhered to the limits on advertising.

Channel Seven said it complies with the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice which contains extensive restrictions in relation to gambling advertising, particularly in programming directed towards children.

“Provisions introduced in 2013 also prevent the advertising of odds during live sports broadcasts,” a spokesman said.

“Commercial television free-to-air broadcasters are the only media platform with such comprehensive rules around the placement and broadcast of gambling advertising.”

Bookmakers were also contacted for comment.

AFL 2016: Gambling revenue the AFL’s dirtiest cash cow

Caroline Wilson
April 2, 2016
Gillon McLachlan took more than a week to respond to the Collingwood illicit drugs controversy. By then the so-called “noise” had almost gone quiet and the minds of a multitude of supporters made up but still when the AFL chief finally did speak he made a lot of sense.
McLachlan slammed the calls for zero tolerance as “insane” and then offered on his regular Friday 3AW gig some nice diversionary calls such as a wish to try football in New Zealand again one day despite its first foray flopping. And potentially awarding Jared Tallent his belated London gold medal at the MCG on grand final day.

It was only when broadcaster Neil Mitchell turned the subject to gaming that the AFL boss came down with a case of the mumbles. This is because McLachlan has nowhere to go on this issue and he knows it.

He’s not alone. Despite devoting increasing resources to fighting corruption and shielding the game from the growing international threat of match fixing; gambling revenue remains the AFL’s dirtiest cash cow.

That the competition continues to thrust betting on a daily basis into the hearts and minds of all its supporters of all ages remains a source of some discomfort to the AFL Commission and so it should.

Having chosen years ago to take up – with varying degrees of success – social leadership in the form of indigenous Australians, women, drugs and more recently homophobia and domestic violence; the AFL remains as hooked on gambling revenue as the clubs McLachlan was questioned about on Friday.

The deal it struck with CrownBet last year remains a Goliath in Australian sporting sponsorship with the betting partner smashing its category to the tune of almost double its nearest opponent. What resulted was a five-year deal worth close to $50 million.

The AFL’s corporate partnerships reaped $55 million from late 2014 through 2015 – roughly one-third of its $182 million commercial operations revenue which increased by 11 per cent from the previous year.

At an estimated $10 million annually the CrownBet deal is a beast and an exclusive arrangement which has led so many clubs towards lucrative deals with problem gambling groups simply because the AFL deal has priced some former club betting deals out of the market.

And the AFL delivers in spades. On the face of it, CrownBet owns AFL.com, the nation’s biggest sporting website. In an era when digital assets have never been more powerful, the AFL’s website would indicate that Australian rules football and betting are inexorably linked and that the game is all about the hip pocket, taking a financial punt with the push of a button.

It is hard to argue with the AFL taking a percentage of every football bet given that all sports do so. But surely the hypocrisy of taking so much money out of an industry which has created such a vast social problem and one which has gone hand-in-hand with international sporting corruption must play on the conscience of the commissioners.

Particularly when they now directly play such a role in introducing children to gambling. As if the saturation advertising on TV and radio during AFL broadcast isn’t bad enough. And yet no senior figure appears prepared to show leadership.

Even Colin Carter, the Geelong chairman who this week accused the industry of being complicit in the damage done by poker machines, smacked of double standards when he said his club would love to sell its pokies but couldn’t currently afford to.

Particularly children who attend when every game at Simonds Stadium are inundated by bet365 LED signage. The Cats are no longer sponsored by the betting agency but sold their signage rights to a broker who covers the cost of setting up the LED and in turn gains 20 per cent of the signage as a pay-off.

So like McLachlan’s comments on radio on Friday there is an arm’s length mentality that pervades the Geelong’s betting advertising at the same time the respected club chief speaks wishfully of turning his back on it.

Having met late last year with anti-gaming crusaders Tim Costello and Nick Xenophon over the clubs’ unhealthy reliance on pokies, McLachlan has made no definitive statement on the problem — in 2015 nine Victorian clubs took close to $90 million from gaming machines and their victims.

Only North Melbourne have given away the pokies with Hawthorn’s multimillion-dollar profits so heavily reliant on their gaming booty and with the pokies representing some 20 per cent of the clubs’ total revenue.

And yet the AFL has failed to support Costello’s call for con-free machines, several days ago responding with a wishy-washy statement on the issue instead.

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

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

Beaner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To think that problem gamblers could end up owing money to the agencies they have already lost all their money too is very disturbing to me. Like the growth in payday loan companies, problem punters can get drawn to the idea that they can bet today and pay it back tomorrow, especially if they have the belief they are going to win. The reality though is that the majority will lose, and the few that may win this time will no doubt lose the next week or the week after, for if this blog has taught you anything, you’ll know that winning consistently on sports betting is difficult, and it is never easy to turn a profit no matter how good a tipster or insightful a gambler you are. The lure of landing the big payoff bet is a false hope too, for again, as many punters that do pull this off once in a while, there are many more that try and fail and end up losing all their money chasing the big one.

I read about a punter who had a big bet on the EPL soccer last weekend (22nd August 2015), betting $15 000 on Swansea to beat Sunderland at 2 to 1. The match ended in a 1-1 draw. A quick analysis under the good bet theory shows that they were betting on a match with 3 possible outcomes while only getting a 2-1 return, which is not a good bet. If they’d bet on the draw, they would have got odds of about 3.30, which is a good return over the 3 outcomes. And I don’t care how big a favourite one team is over the other pre-match, on the ground anything can happen and there is no such thing as a sure thing in sport, and to bet on an event believing you can’t lose is always going to be reckless. And if one team is heavily favoured over another to win, then the odds will reflect this and the return will be so low it would not be worth gambling on, for the likelihood of a small return does not outweigh the risk of an upset result.

You would hope that the government and authorities will take steps to block this option for punters to get loans from sports betting agencies, but there is a conflict of interest too as any drop in gambling revenue will mean a drop in the amount of tax the governments collect. It is in the government’s best interest for their citizens to gamble at the current levels to maintain the expected income, which would also be factored into the yearly budgets. As has been discussed before, governments are now reliant on this stream of income. I’ve no doubt they do have a desire to help problem gamblers, but they are also more than happy for the rest of the population to gamble just enough, just below the threshold of what is classified as a problem gambler. Move along, nothing to see here…

Beaner

Sports betting: call to ban unsolicited credit offers as problem gambling rises
‘If this is the future of gambling, it is indeed frightening,’ says peak body for financial counsellors, concerned at tactics used to draw in punters

Michael Safi

Monday 17 August 2015

Sports betting agencies should be “urgently” banned from extending credit to punters, a new report has recommended, amid signs of a surge in gamblers seeking help for excessive online betting.
Inducements, unsolicited credit, tactically withholding payouts, and possible breaches of the Privacy Act are some of the alleged methods employed by sports betting agencies in a largely “uncontrolled” industry, according to the report by Financial Counselling Australia (FCA).

“If this is the future of gambling, it is indeed frightening,” the report said, arguing that if credit was not banned, bookmakers should at least be forced to comply with credit laws requiring them to formally assess whether a punter has any chance of repaying credit.

It also called for new punters to be required to nominate a maximum bet amount, a ban on advertising links between payday lenders and sports betting sites, and a national register for people who want to self-exclude (rather than each company keeping a separate register).

Betting revenues are thought to have surged since the proliferation of smart phones and legal changes allowing betting sites to advertise during sports broadcasts.

Just how much is being gambled online on sport is yet to be quantified, but the advertising spend by betting agencies increased fourfold between 2010 and 2013 to nearly $48m, according to monitoring firm Ebiquity.

Gambling help clinics in Melbourne and Sydney have reported a tripling and doubling respectively in the number of sports betting clients they have treated in the past few years, according to an investigation by ABC Radio’s Background Briefing.
Launching the report on Monday, the independent senator Nick Xenophon said he would introduce a bill shortly to ban betting on credit.

“[Online sports betting] turbocharges the risks of problem gambling. Internet sports betting firms are using aggressive, high-tech strategies to target young men, increasingly to the point of ruin,” he said.

One case study included in the report detailed how one man was offered up to $500 in free bets by one betting company, and went on to gamble away the proceeds of the sale of his home.

In another, a man attempted suicide due to his gambling debts and emerged from hospital to an offer by one company to take him to a boxing match.

At least one customer already in debt was encouraged to whittle down what he owed by betting more and was offered extra credit, according to an email obtained by FCA.

“We were also told by a former employee that sports betting companies swap customer account data, contrary to privacy legislation,” the report said.

“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 Australian Wagering Council (AWC), an industry group, said it would “carefully examine the issues” raised in the report, but said new regulations on the gambling operators were “unnecessary”.

“There is no evidence-based research to suggest that changes in consumer behaviour, including customers choosing sports betting in preference to other forms of gambling … has led to an increase in problem gambling,” it said.

“Wagering on sport comprises only 2.3% of Australia’s total annual gambling spend, with the vast majority, 52.4%, of Australia’s gambling happening on poker machines in pubs and clubs.”

The AWC said it agreed with the call for a national self-exclusion register and that credit – which it said had always been available from bookmakers – should never be offered unsolicited.

http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/aug/17/sports-betting-call-to-ban-unsolicited-credit-offers-as-problem-gambling-rises