Posts Tagged ‘Horse racing’

It’s the Spring Carnival again leading into the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday (looking forward to the day off work for a horse race!), and the sports betting agencies are going into overdrive with advertising and incentives to win the punter’s dollar.  As you may be aware, making money from horse racing is nearly imposibble unless you have inside contacts to get information the rest of us aren’t privvy to, but even then the returns for the number of horses in the field always leads to ‘Bad Bets’ being made, and over time, they will bleed you dry.

Beaner

Melbourne Cup spurs online gambling as exotic products push legal boundaries

Anne Davies
Published: October 31, 2015

For most of us it’s a chance for a once-a-year flutter in a sweepstake or a plain vanilla bet at the TAB. By the time the Spring Carnival, horse racing’s most prestigious season is over, Australians will have bet nearly $1.5 billion since August.

There’s a war raging for the gambling dollar as multinational online gambling houses slug it out for a share of a lucrative but overcrowded sports betting market, worth about $750 million in revenue, but with turnover 10 times that. On top of that, offshore operators are trying to lure Australians – the biggest gamblers in the world – to part with their cash.

It used to be that to place a bet punters had to wander down to the dingy TAB or make a phone call. But increasingly online betting companies are testing the boundaries of the law to offer all manner of exotic betting: things like in-race betting – which allows punters to place bets up to 20 seconds after the horses start running, rebates on horses coming second and third, and cash or rewards schemes and other inducements to open an online account.

Simultaneously, mobile phones have made gambling more accessible anywhere anytime, particularly to a new demographic – young men – who have grown up transacting virtually every aspect of their life on the phone. And the companies want their business.

Over the last decade several big multinational betting companies have entered the Australian market, taking on Tabcorp with online betting shops. British giant William Hill took over Tom Waterhouse last year. Ladbrokes, also from the Britain is here, as is Unibet from Europe. Sportsbet, the home-grown online operator, has been taken over by Irish company, Paddy Power.

Before the Melbourne Cup, the online betting companies are offering all manner of inducements. For example William Hill is offering $150 free if you open a new account with $50, and Ladbrokes is offering up to $250.

The fine print says that the stake must be turned over at least two times before it can be withdrawn and because of laws prohibiting inducements in NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, they are not available in those states. But by the time a punter realises he is ineligible, he will probably have signed up for an account.

Gambling is also the fastest-growing category of advertising on TV. Until 2009 advertising by interstate gambling companies was banned by NSW and Victorian legislation. Most online companies are based in the Northern Territory for tax reasons. Companies allegedly relied on dubious practices such as giving journalists free credit in their accounts to mention their name. But in 2009 the High Court ruled the laws were a restraint of trade and since then it’s been open slather – particularly during sports events – even those televised at times when children are watching.

In the first nine months of this year, from January to September, the industry spent $107.6 million on TV ads alone, up 38 per cent on the same period in 2014, according to Standard Media Index, a company which measures advertising spends. And those figures don’t include the massive spend for the Spring Carnival and the Melbourne Cup.

Gambling has become a lifeline for free-to-air television. Standard Media Index chief executive Jane Schultz says gambling ads have rocketed from the 15th-largest category in 2014 to eighth.

The companies are also active on social media. They tweet to the football codes’ hashtags and post funny shareable videos on YouTube, featuring their logos.

But anti-gambling campaigners warn that online gambling, and the way it is being marketed, has dramatically raised the danger for young people.

In researching this story, I discovered that my 19-year-old and most of her friends have online gambling accounts. “Of course, everyone does,” she said, as if I had asked about Instagram. “It saves you having to go to the TAB.”

But it is not so benign as Instagram. Deakin University researcher Samantha Thomas says online gambling effectively puts a gambling venue, open 24/7, in your pocket. The marketing for online gambling is targeted towards young men.

One campaign showed legendary Socceroos goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer on the couch with two blokes, wearing green and gold scarves as the national anthem played and pulling out their phones to bet on their team.

“The message was ‘betting is patriotic and entirely normal’,” Thomas says. “It’s a step in the normalisation of betting among young men. They are shown in peer groups, and sports betting is being directly linked with common symbols surrounding the sport.”

Once signed up, online gamblers can expect regular correspondence by email or even phone calls if they are valuable enough.

A few months ago the online site New Daily published a first-person piece, the confessions of a “retention officer“. He described how his job was to ring people who had been inactive and offer free bets or credit. Often he would find himself convincing someone who was desperately trying to give up their habit.

South Australian senator Nick Xenophon, a long-standing campaigner for robust gambling controls, says online gambling and the way it is being marketed with matching free bets to get people to open accounts, free credit and saturation advertising aimed at young people, threatens to spawn a new epidemic of problem gamblers.

Because of its immediacy, online gambling, is as addictive as poker machines, he says.

“I am worried we will have a generation of young men who won’t be able to buy a car, go overseas, buy a house,” he says. “The scars of that will be long-lasting and have huge social consequences.”

In September the federal government finally initiated a long-promised inquiry into the Interactive Gambling Act 2001. It will be undertaken by former NSW premier Barry O’Farrell. Written in 2000, it’s clear the act is struggling to keep up with technology.

Take for example the issue of in-play betting – placing bets once a race or event has started – which is legal in TABs and over the phone but illegal online.

The policy reason behind the ban, Monash University researcher Charles Livingstone says, is that in-play betting online, unlike making a bet at the TAB, is instantaneous and continuous, offering a similar intense emotional experience as pokies. Punters can literally see the odds changing.

William Hill, headed by Tom Waterhouse locally, along with another British rival Bet365 have been operating a controversial service. It requires punters to keep their smartphone microphone on, while placing bets online. This they say, makes it a phone service, within the law.

A few months ago, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, which has responsibility for internet services, referred William Hill to the Australian Federal Police after a complaint. This week the AFP said it would not investigate, based on resourcing issues, leaving the service’s legality still up in the air.

“This is a great outcome for Australian punters who will no longer be forced to bet In-Play via illegal offshore bookmakers which pose a huge threat to both consumer protection and the integrity of Australian sport,” Waterhouse said.

“Throughout the development and before launching In-Play, William Hill took prudent steps to ensure In-Play is a ‘telephone betting service’ that is 100 per cent legal and compliant under the Interactive Gambling Act,” he said.

“What sets William Hill apart as a company is its willingness to push the boundaries through technology and innovation to give its customers something much better.”

But whether the review will delve into this and other more pressing social questions arising out of the growth of online services remains to be seen.

The review makes it clear that its primary focus is illegal offshore based services which ignore the Australian laws. As well as offering prohibited casino games like roulette and pokies online, they sidestep licensing, tax and harm-minimisation codes.

“It is estimated that offshore wagering is a $1 billion annual illegal business in Australia,” then social services minister Scott Morrison said when he announced the review.

Xenophon says that there is no doubt that the illegal offshore sites have caused “enormous hardship”. “People have lost huge amounts of money especially to operators based in Gibraltar,” he says.

But that’s only part of the issue, he says, as evidenced by the 2013 report by the Department of Communications into online gambling and the submissions of Financial Counselling Australia.

The promotion and marketing, provision of free credit, unfettered by the consumer credit legislation, offering inducements and other aspects of the local online industry also need to be tackled, he says.

The fourth term of reference of the review appears to provide scope to look at locally based online gambling. It says the review will look at “the efficacy of approaches to protect the consumer – including warnings, information resources, public information campaigns and any other measures, regulatory or otherwise, that could mitigate the risk of negative social impacts on consumers”.

Interestingly, there is no mention of advertising, and The Australian has reported the TV networks argued vociferously against it being specifically included.

A spokesman for the new minister, Christian Porter, said term 4 was deliberately broad and what was anticipated is that it will draw out issues and inform the formation of future gambling policy.

But others, like Livingstone are more sceptical, particularly as the inquiry is meant to report by December 18.

He’s also worried by the choice of O’Farrell to head the review, pointing out that both sides of politics in NSW are close to Clubs NSW and the Australian Hotels Association, both big players in the gambling industry. In addition, O’Farrell also granted the second casino licence to James Packer’s Crown, which is also an emerging player in online gambling.

“What worries me greatly is that in order to tackle people being hoodwinked by illegal offshore operators, there will be a recommendation to deregulate to allow Australian online services and clubs to provide casino-style games.”

Tabcorp, which as the incumbent is feeling the pressure from the new competition, is backing a broad review and calling for it to explore not only offshore but onshore online gambling and the tsunami of advertising.

“This review presents the perfect opportunity to define the type of wagering industry we want in Australia and address the inconsistencies,” chairwoman Paula Dwyer said.

“We believe there needs to be a single rule across the country in relation to the offering of credit by bookmakers. Northern Territory-licensed corporate bookmakers can offer their clients lines of credit, although TABs cannot. We believe the easiest way to address this is to introduce a single rule preventing wagering operators from acting as lenders and providing credit to customers. Nationally consistent advertising and inducement laws would reduce confusion for customers and wagering operators,” she says.

“We agree with the community that it is too much and would support sensible solutions to reduce the extent of the advertising.”

The Australian Wagering Council, which represents a number of the big online bookmakers including William Hill and Betfair says it anticipates interested parties making submissions to the O’Farrell review that may also raise issues that address the broader regulation of the Australian online wagering industry.

The Australian Wagering Council considers the Australian regulatory environment confusing for both customers and operators.

“The promotion and delivery of responsible gambling and harm-minimisation measures is a key aspect of good regulation. The Australian Wagering Council has long acknowledged the importance of commercially sensible regulation of advertising, product offers and inducements and deferred settlement facilities,” it says.

This story was found at: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/melbourne-cup-spurs-online-gambling-as-exotic-products-push-legal-boundaries-20151030-gkmmm0.html

This article is worth sharing, as it highlights the pervasive nature of the sports betting agencies in Australia and how many young Australian sports fans are growing up with sports betting being normalised around their favourite sports.  We are bombarded with quirky gambling ads and odds information, live crosses to sports betting agencies during matches and even commentators speculating about odds and who deserves to be favourite in pre-game discussions.

The lack of infomation about the true nature of sports betting is frightening, and by selling the belief that you will win money betting on your favourite sport because everyone else appears to be, it is easy to see why many young and no doubt older Australians are ending up in debt and constantly losing money betting on sports and the racing industry.

Beaner

‘Dramatic increase’ in online gambling addiction among young men, treatment clinic warns

By Lindy Kerin

28th May 2015

Some teenagers are racking up debts of $30,000 through online sports betting, and the number of young people asking for help has doubled in three years, the University of Sydney’s Gambling Treatment Clinic says.

The treatment centre’s operator says the bulk of their clients used to be poker machine addicts, but now they are treating mostly young men in trouble with online betting.

State of Origin is one of the most popular sporting events in Australia and Wednesday night’s game was watched by millions of people.

Just before kick-off viewers were given the latest odds and the following Sportsbet advertisement was played during the game:

“With Sportsbet for Origin Game 1, place a head-to-head bet and if your team lose by eight points or less — cash back up to $100.”

It is this sort of marketing of online betting that is being blamed for an increase in the number of young people developing gambling addictions.

Dr Christopher Hunt has been a clinical psychologist at the University of Sydney’s Gambling Treatment Clinic for eight years.

“When I first started, we pretty much never saw anyone of that 18 to 25-year-old demographic, but what we’ve seen is a dramatic increase, especially over the past three, four years,” he said.

“So in the past three years we’ve seen a doubling in the number of people from that demographic … in 2012 we had 23, and last year we had 50, and this year we’re on track to see even more.

“It seems to be young men who are getting themselves into trouble, and I guess that’s particularly related to the fact that it’s tied to sports and horse betting, because those sorts of gambling are almost always men’s preferred forms of gambling.”

Dr Hunt remembered one young man in particular, who took money from his employer to pay off gambling debts and lost his marriage and employment prospects in a health profession as a result.

“It got to the point that just before he came to see us he was thinking about killing himself and that was essentially the trigger that brought him into our clinic,” he said.

Using sports knowledge to make money ‘ultimately a false belief’

Dr Hunt said he believed the increased promotion of online gambling is to blame for the rise, as well as the easy access to online betting through Smartphone’s and tablets.

He said while sporting codes had introduced some measures to not talk about odds during a game, sports betting was still promoted during advertisement breaks.

“This escalation of this marketing of sports betting seems to have occurred just before we’re seeing this rise in gambling in young men,” he said.

“So while we haven’t done the studies to conclusively say that these things are caused by this increase in marketing, it definitely seems to have occurred at the same time.

“When you’re constantly pushing this message that betting is glamorous, betting is fun, betting is a way you can be a winner [and] you can turn your interest and knowledge of sports into money, it’s an incorrect statement essentially, but it’s part of the core that’s really getting people trapped into these gambling problems.

“It’s this belief that if I have an interest in sports, if I know something about sports, I can use that to make money, which at the end of the day is ultimately a false belief.”

Dr Hunt said community attitudes towards gambling must change and urged young people who have started getting into trouble to get help early.

“Really nip it in the bud now because the people that we do see in their 30s and their 40s and their 50s, they first started getting into problems with gambling in their early 20s,” he said.

“Whilst at that stage it might not have been as problematic for them, that’s when it started for pretty much all our clients and by the time we’re seeing people in their 40s and 50s, what we’re seeing is people that have lost houses, people who have lost jobs, people who have lost marriages, people who have lost custody of their kids as a result of their gambling.”

Support is available through the Gambler’s Help website gamblershelp.com.au or by calling the free Gambling Help Line on 1800 858 858.

It has been very notable to me that the sports betting agencies have upped their advertising campaigns on late night television in the last few weeks.  Now I don’t watch many TV shows, but within the few movies I have watched on FTA TV recently, there have been as many as 2 or 3 sports bet and horse racing ads within any 15 minute block of content.

This is no doubt due to the AFL and NRL finals being underway, and with the annual horse racing Spring Carnival just around the corner, the major Sportsbet companies are zeroing in on the punter to convince them to part ways with their hard earned.

The ads are slick and enticing and reinforcing the myth that Australians love to gamble, and that backing a winner makes you a ‘winner’.  The best scenario for the punter is this growing competition for the gambling dollar will give punters better odds on events, with less vigorish being taken out of the winnings.  This may never happen, but if you are going to gamble, do your research and always try and find the best odds for the bets you want to make.

The Australian version of Bet365 is currently running ads with Samuel L. Jackson walking around in a space-age setting proclaiming that Bet365 is the World’s biggest online sports betting company that is offering great odds on Australian sports.  The UK version of the ads use British actor Ray Winstone as their narrator, so you can see the approach they have taken.

TAB has their ‘walk of fame’ style TV ads where some 20-something hipster-doofus walks in slow motion to collect his winnings in some fictitious TAB/pub that has classy girls in it, or variations on this theme.  The times I have been in a TAB it was always a male only affair, except for maybe the employees, and I could count on one hand how many women I’ve seen in a pub TAB.

Sportingbet is currently offering the best tote + 5%.  “Best Tote Plus gives you an extra 5% on your winnings. Best tote plus guarantees a return that is better than the three national TABs. Available on every Australian thoroughbred race, every day.”  This is a big push to gain a share of the TAB revenue, which may work, and if the punter can bet smart and make more money, then  good luck in taking advantage of this deal.

Sportsbet also run a TV commercial promising the best return on horse racing from the three national TABs.

How long before one of the sports bet agencies offers Bets Odds + 5% on any sporting event?  Dream on.

Tom Waterhouse has been advertising heavily for over a year, but it will be interesting to see if this changes since he sold his business in August 2013 to the British gambling giant William Hill, which paid $34 million in cash for tomwaterhouse.com plus $6 million for the bookmaker’s debt.  William Hill already own Sportingbet and Centrebet in Australia.

Centrebet are currently pushing their AFL bet for the finals, offering your money back if your team is in front at half time and then loses.  Late 2012 Centrebet ran a ‘Fire Up’ campaign using Black Betty by Spiderbait as the music and Australian professional boxer and water skiing champion Lauryn Eagle as their spokesperson.  Shame on you Spiderbait, one for covering a song that doesn’t need covering, and two for selling out even more and promoting gambling in Australia. Hope you are enjoying your retirement from music, as what credibility you had left has retired too.

All the sports bet agencies now have apps for the smart phones, making mobile betting a reality; punters can bet around the clock and from any location.  Think of all that juice imbedded in every single bet…

Beaner