Posts Tagged ‘Horse racing’

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.

‘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

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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