Another offshore attack. Just let us bet.

From today’s AustralianRacing, police combine to end illegal betting agencies

It really is hard to know where to start with this one.

We know Patrick Smith isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, but does he really believe that any bookmaker not licensed by an Australian state or territory represents “an unprecedented menace to all sport”?

The article is obviously prompted by Racing Victoria’s decision to make it “an offence for any licensed and registered person to bet on Victorian racing with betting agencies not approved by Racing Victoria”.

Good luck with that one. Most trainers and jockeys are smart enough not bet in their own name – why would they open a Citibet account in their own name?

But onto sport. We have this quote from the AFL general counsel, Andrew Dillon:

Australian2

Interestingly, Dillon appears to be batting for the bookies in pushing for the in-play ban to be removed (it all but has been of course, with William Hill and Bet365 allowing it) as “the best way to counter the use of offshore illegal betting”.

We’ve got news for you Dillon. A good way to stop punters going offshore is to get bookies here to take a bet. You can start with your official wagering partner Crownbet who frequently deny $25 bets to winning customers.

Crownbet

Wonder why they go offshore when winning punters aren’t discriminated against at the likes of Pinnacle Sports with $10,000+ limits. Not to mention the revenue you are missing out on when your wagering partner only wants to accept bets from losing punters.

pinnacle1

If sporting bodies like the AFL wanted to do something for “integrity” they would be pushing for a fair minimum bet rule in sport. It would surely be easier to enforce than in racing where multiple punters bet at the same time.

Back to today’s article. How could Smith add more credibility to the piece? Go the to Victoria Police for a quote. That’s right the same police force that is so knowledgeable about betting that they charged a score-dispensing courtsider with “conduct that would corrupt a betting outcome”.

Australian3

“Because they operate outside of the law, they are able to appear more competitive”.. I assume he means the law (as he sees it) in Victoria and not the law where the bookmaker is registered?

Enough with all the misinformation. Just let winning punters get a fair bet on. Revenue to sporting bodies will increase and integrity concerns from money going offshore will be dramatically reduced.

Here’s a Classic(bet)!

The NSW Government licensed Classicbet really do hate winners. Here’s what they are asking for if they suspect that you might be somehow inclined to back more winners than losers:

—————–

After consideration we have decided to re-open your ClassicBet betting
account subject to the satisfactory completion and return of important
probity requirements.

In accordance with this, your account has been temporarily suspended
pending the receipt of these documents required by the ClassicBet
Compliance team.

Please complete the attached terms of trade with a Statutory Declaration
as to the bona fides of your betting account.

The completed Statutory Declaration must include the following
information and documents all of which must be verified by an authorised
party:

a. Your full name, address, date of birth, and occupation;

b. ClassicBet pin or account ID;

c. Details and supporting documentation as to whether you operate your
betting account for yourself only, or on behalf of someone else;

d. Details of how you are funding your betting account;

e. Certified copies of the evidence of the source of funds deposited to
your ClassicBet betting account;

f. Certified copies of your last three tax assessments;

g. Certified copies of documents evidencing your current income e.g.
your last 3 employee payslips;

h. Printout of the IP address(es) for the computers used to operate your
betting account;

and

i. Details of the mobile phone numbers used to operate your account.

Where a certified copy of a document is required to be attached to the
Statutory Declaration, you will need

to have those documents certified by a Justice of the Peace, Solicitor
or Commissioner for Declarations.

Upon receiving the above information your account will be unsuspended
and available for betting.

Kind regards,

ClassicBet Compliance team

Memo to AFL on INTEGRITY

Mixed success. That’s how you could describe our campaign to get bookies to take a racing bet from winning punters. While some have reported a positive experience, it’s all too evident that many Australian bookmakers continue to thumb their nose at Racing NSW’s Minimum Bet rule. This is particularly the case with so-called “indicative pricing” where by winning punters are offered a lower price than that served up on a platter to losing punters. Ka-ching!

With the 2015 kick-off of the biggest game in the land – the AFL – it’s time to turn a little attention to sport.

Readers will no doubt be familiar with all the “betting scandals” that have enveloped the game of Aussie Rules over the summer. The latest involved Collingwood’s Jack Crisp placing bets on an AFL market totaling, wait for it – $129. At the same time, the AFL announced it had sacked a scoring official for the year after permitting 62 bets totaling $362 be placed using his account. Yes, the average bet was $6. Sacked!

Rule breaches they were, but announced from the rooftops in the name of INTEGRITY. How heroic.

MEMO TO THE AFL

Here’s what the AFL can do about integrity – force their wagering partners to take a bet from winning punters.

The AFL have revenue and information sharing agreements with most if not all Australian-licensed bookmakers. The AFL take a share of revenue generated from betting on the game and bookmakers sift through their records to match names and report any anomalies to the AFL Integrity Unit.

We also know that winning clients are severely restricted to amounts that are hardly even worth the trouble of logging in at just about each and every Australian-licensed bookie.

The same punters are exposed to tweets like this from Pinnacle Sports.com (licensed in Curacao (a Dutch island in the southern Caribbean sea) and Malta).

 

Here is what a winning punter can get on at the line with Sportsbet on Monday’s Hawthorn v Geelong match.

sportsbet2

 

And here is what PinnacleSports.com will bet the same winning punter.

pinnacle1

 

 

 

$217 versus $13,777.

The AFL kiss goodbye to the revenue and have no idea who is betting. That is where you lose INTEGRITY – not from $6 bets.

Force your partner bookmakers to bet punters a reasonable amount and they don’t need to head offshore.

Another scenario. Say I’m a dopey insider at an AFL club after a quick buck. I’ve got news that the three best players are out for the weekend. It’s Thursday afternoon and I’m about to beat the massive line move by placing a few bets at Pinnacle. He could most probably get three bets on – up to $40,000 – before a significant line move.

You think Pinnacle Sports will be divulging the name of the punter who sparked a plunge to the AFL? Players and officials, you know where to bet.

Fairness returns?

In case you missed this week’s news, Racing NSW have declared their intention to bring back fairness into the Australian wagering landscape by introducing a minimum bet rule.

Racing NSW announced the move here. And more details about how it forms part of the “Race Fields Information Use Conditions” are available here.

There has been a heap of commentary on the issue already in mainstream media. Racing radio station RSN has led the way:

Peter V’Landys – Racing NSW CEO

– Mary Collier – Australian Wagering Council

– Richard Irvine

– Punter Steve Fletcher predicts NSW racing turnover will skyrocket from new minimum bet limits

This is great news. But its only the beginning and there’s a long way to go in our efforts to help swing the pendulum back towards a level playing field between punters and bookmakers in Australia.

As we’ve said before, holding a bookmakers licence is NOT and never should be a licence to print money. Targeting and betting losers only is a completely ruthless and unfair business model. Complicit state regulators have failed dismally to protect punters.

Lets be clear – the foreign-owned corporate bookmakers are making huge profits from their Australian operations. Betting winners to win $2000 or $1000 wont send them to the wall, but it will trim their margins to a more realistic level. Who knows, maybe risk assessors might make way for some real bookmakers that know how to price and manage markets?

It’s no surprise that spin doctor Mary Collier, who represents the foreign-owned corps, is defending the shameful practices right up until the end. “What the entire industry needs when looking at complex issues is to have rules developed in a thoughtful and careful way that .. works for bookmakers and punters,” she says while complaining about a (perceived) lack of consultation. Excuse me?

You see, I cant find a punter who was consulted before the corporates quietly and successfully lobbied the Northern Territory Racing Commission to have their minimum bet rule completely abolished a few years ago. Not one.

Arguments about small “Mum and Dad” punters losing out is absurd. I’m tipping that there will be no impact whatsoever on price competitiveness as a result of this rule. It will remain a highly competitive industry – why would one bookie consistently bet a higher margin and risk losing or attracting new business?

We’ve got the issue into the mainstream media. Punters and the general public see a racing body making an attempt to bring back fairness to punting. Good luck to any bookie who decides to ignore the rules and go to court in an attempt to keep winners off their books. We all know how that will look in the court of public opinion.

A not so Classic experience

This one came across the Fair Wagering Australia desk yesterday.

A punter writes:

——————-

My ire has been raised and I’m in the mood for a rant!

Following is the complete story of my experience with NSW regulated online “bookmaker” ClassicBet.com.au who label themselves as “Australia’s first premium betting agency”.

I first became aware of their existence through a cold call offering me a generous bonus to sign up and bet with them.

I monitored the site for few days and saw very little to excite me. Vanilla odds for sports didn’t turn me on. But given that I have so few options available to me I thought perhaps it won’t hurt to give them a try. And the bonus offer of $1,000 in free bets for a $2,000 deposit with x3 turnover was sufficiently enticing.

Their site boasts the following noble statements:

“ClassicBet strongly supports the ‘Ideals and Objectives’ as set out by the Australian Bookmakers Association … We are particularly committed to demonstrating responsibility and providing excellent service”.

(Subsequent enquiries have found that they are not members of the ABA, though they have applied for membership.)

“A premium level of service with no equal. Every client is provided a client manager who will be available to assist you in any way possible”.

(I’m still waiting to be advised of who my client manager is/was or receive any contact from him/her, or assistance from anybody.)

Frankly I fully expected that my stay would be short as I just “knew” that they’d close my account before too long. But I didn’t expect it quite so soon and with the consequences which followed.

So, I proceeded to open an account and made a $2,000 deposit. I went straight into action in order to establish the required turnover and placed a couple of bets on the footy. As luck would have it, both lost and my account balance was back to $0!

Time to place a bonus (free) bet. I found a golfer at somewhat close to competitive odds and asked for a bet on him. But I was then informed (contrary to what I’d previously been told) that bonus bets can be placed on racing only. No sports!

So, I went to check the bonus bet rules published on the site and found:

“a) For any promotion where bonus bets are received, the corresponding deposit must be turned over three times, at odds of $1.50 or greater before a withdrawal can be processed.
b) Bonus bets can be placed in any amount from 1 to 500 on any event, including multis and exotics.”

Protest lodged but dismissed.

That dimmed whatever enthusiasm I’d had for the site so it was a couple of weeks before I revisited and made a $600 deposit specifically to place a footy bet for $585 on a game which was to be played the following day.

I also spotted a decent price for a horse (7.50) which I fancied and asked for a $200 free bet on it. The response received was “Rejected (odds changed)” and it was promptly turned down to 5.00.

Yet notwithstanding that the bet had been rejected my bonus bets balance was reduced by $200!

Undaunted, I went in again and requested another $200 free bet at ‘best tote + SP’. Finally, a free bet accepted! The horse won at 3.5 and I was credited with winnings of $500.

Let’s try another! I asked for a free bet of $200 at ‘best tote + SP’. This time the response received read: “Rejected (account closed)”!

Yep, that’s right, I had three sports bets for two losses ($2,000) and one pending ($585) and a single (free) racing bet which won me $500. And that was the point at which (according to subsequent advice) they deemed my account to “not be recreational”.

Now, it really comes as no surprise to have yet another account closed but frankly I didn’t expect it quite so soon and in such circumstances.

I accept that they do have the legal (though not moral) “right” to do that. But what I don’t accept is that they have any right to deny me the remaining $800 of free bets which was a significant condition of my joining and depositing $2,000.

Further, in correspondence with Mr Ryan Kay of ClassicBet, he insisted that I had used up $600 of my free bets which of course is nonsense as they accepted only $200 and rejected $400 of my requests. I have a screenshot to prove it.

Having failed in my demand for them to honour their commitment to me I forwarded a formal complaint to the NSW OLGR.

I was suitably impressed with the OLGR’s prompt response to my complaint.

But not so impressed with their finding that ClassicBet “has not breached the Rules or Legislation” quoting: “3.1.2 Discretion of sports bookmaker. (c) A sports bookmaker is under no obligation to accept any wager from any customer or prospective customer”, and

“3.5.6 Internet betting access may be denied without notice
The sports bookmaker may cease to provide access to a customer to
the web site of the sports bookmaker to place bets via the Internet at
anytime. This may be done without notice to the customer.”

At this point I make the observation that I wasn’t denied any sports bets, only racing bets, so I’m not sure what relevance quoting that legislation has.

They then went on to refer to ClassicBet’s own terms and conditions, copying and pasting those pertaining to bonus bets:

“9. Bonus Bets
a) For any promotion where bonus bets are received, the corresponding deposit must be turned over three times, at odds of $1.50 or greater before a withdrawal can be processed.
b) Bonus bets can be placed in any amount from 1 to 500 on racing events (free bets cannot be used on sports or multis unless specified by client manager). Bonus bets are subject to the rules in Section 9. on the Acceptance of Bets.
c) Rules may vary on some promotions and any variance shall be displayed on the promotion
d) If after opening an account, clients are provided bonus bets without making a deposit, before they make any withdrawal, they must deposit at least an equal amount and turnover the deposit amount three times (after making the deposit).
e) Referral promotion. The referring client will be provided with referral bonus once the referral has deposited at least $200 and has turnover of at least $600 (at odds greater than $1.50.
f) Bonus bets are provided at the discretion of the Bookmaker and can be held back or withdrawn at any time.”

Note the differences and additions to the rules which I quoted previously?

Those changes were made only after I complained. They are not the rules which were on the site when I joined and by which our contract should be bound. I have a screenshot which proves it.

And further:

“10. Placement and the Acceptance of Bets
a) All bets on an Account are considered to be placed and received in the State of NSW, Australia.
b) Classicbet reserves the right at any time to refuse any bet or part of a bet without providing a reason or advance notification. The circumstances in which we may refuse a Client’s bet include but are not limited to:
i) Client is or may be less than 18 years of age;
ii) Client is or may be betting on behalf of a person who is less than 18 years of age;
iii) Client is or may be in breach of these Rules;
iv) Client is or may be in breach of any applicable law; or
v) Client’s proposed bet would present an unacceptable liability risk to our business. Whether there is an unacceptable liability risk to us for the purpose of this Rule is at Classicbet’s discretion.”
I most certainly wasn’t in breach of clauses i) through iv) and haven’t been accused of being so, so the conclusion therefore is that my request for a $200 free bet on a horse which was at less than 3.00 in the market represented an “unacceptable liability risk” to ClassicBet!

On a more positive note, ClassicBet did promptly pay me the balance of my account which included a dividend of $1,111.15 on the footy bet which was pending at the time they closed my account.

Additional observations I’d like to make about this experience:

1. I am advised that, unlike the TAB in NSW, bookmakers are not obliged to lay clients a horse for at least $1,500 but even if they were, there is nothing stopping a bookmaker from avoiding that obligation by simply terminating his account.

2. I have no legal qualification but in 40+ years business experience I’ve picked up a few things, one of which is my understanding that notwithstanding the strict wording of terms and conditions, the exercise of discretionary provisions requires adherence to principles of FAIRNESS.

3. Are regulators concerned only with the letter of the law? Are they not responsible for the protection of consumers and monitoring the ethics of licensed persons?

4. It is quite clear that punters in Australia have very little opportunity to obtain justice in disputes with bookmakers. The State regulators are next to useless, almost always siding with the bookmakers who effectively fund them. And for some incomprehensible reason I am repeatedly advised by Fair Trading offices that they have no jurisdiction in gambling related cases! Why ever not?

End of rant (for the time being).

Bet365 hauled before regulator

samuel_l_jackson

The Northern Territory Racing Commission (NTRC) appear to have taken the first step in an attempt to rein in UK entrant Bet365 and their controversial risk management practises.

Responding to a series of questions posed by OnThePunt, NTRC Chairman Richard O’Sullivan said that the commission has “invited a representative of Bet365 to the next Racing Commission meeting in Darwin to fully explain its risk management practices”. This has come about due to a “considerable number of complaints .. to the practices of Bet365.”

The giant privately-owned firm have adopted a strict policy since opening up shop in Australia – one that appears to simply not tolerate winning clients. Punters have often expressed outrage in online forums and on social media.

Bet365 management use phrases such as “due to the nature of your business” and deeming an account to be “uneconomical” as justification for closing accounts or restricted punters to minuscule wagers. They have also removed bonus bet winnings from accounts that have had restrictions subsequently placed upon them. Actions like this have never been seen in Australia.

The broader issue – fairness to punters

After consultation with bookmakers, the NTRC recently removed the “Minimum Bet Rule” which required licensees to bet punters to win a minimum amount – $1000 on major race meetings for example. They quietly posted a somewhat confusing media release regarding the subject on August 16.

The NTRC stated that the min bet rule was brought in because bookies were often betting punters to win minuscule amounts. But then, due to “technical realities of internet operations”, bookmakers simply closed accounts.

“Since removing the rule, the Commission continues to be disappointed over licensed bookmakers offering to accept minimum wagers or continuation of the practise of closure of accounts,” O’Sullivan told OnThePunt. Well what did he expect would happen?

Let’s remember that the NTRC has as one of its regulatory objectives:

“to promote fairness in the delivery of betting services to the public”

As I’ve stated here before, there is nothing fair about bookies betting only losing clients. The NTRC even suggest that punters who get banned or cut back should wager into the pari-mutuel pool. Are these guys serious?

I’m not pretending that there is an easy solution, but how can a regulator charged with promoting “fairness” totally dump a rule that was specifically designed to introduce fairness? And do so when a couple of foreign-owned corporates start whinging? Where’s the consultation with stakeholders (i.e. the tax-paying punters)?

Maybe one solution could be to lower the minimum bet amount to win $500. That would surely be reasonable. If bookmakers can’t make a profit by betting winners to win $500 and losers to whatever they like, then perhaps they don’t deserve to be in business.

Moving forward, the NTRC offer the following: “It is the belief of the Racing Commission that going forward a commercially realistic balance with respect to alternative available wagering product will be struck to the benefit of the broader gambling public.”

It’s fine to put that in writing, but the NTRC have simply failed to protect the interests of the punter and there is little evidence to say that they intend on doing so in the future, despite what their regulatory objectives may say.

It’s hard to see how the NT Racing Minister can have any confidence in the NTRC at all. But then again, he’d be from a Government that came away with just $2.5 million in tax from $6 billion in bookmaker turnover last financial year. Enough said.

This article was originally published at OnThePunt.com. It has been reproduced with permission.

Sports betting and the misleading media

As the sports betting industry continues to cop it from all angles in the media, The Insider asks why.

As the commentary continues in light of the Federal Government’s decision to partially ban sports betting promotion on TV and radio, how is it that so many in the media – supposedly independent media at that – are getting away with misleading their audience about sports betting?

Surely journalists can’t be so misinformed when it comes to discussing gambling? So often, articles and reports begin by talking about the current sports betting issue and somehow end up blurring the lines by making general statements about more harsh forms of gambling.

As I’ve mentioned before here:

“Many commentators and like have failed to understand that different forms of gambling have different returns, different attractions and ultimately, different rates of problem gambling and addiction.”

Some facts:

– Latest figures show that sports betting accounts for just 1.6% of total gambling expenditure in Australia. Yes, all the recent coverage for 1.6%!

– The Productivity Commission report into gambling found that wagering (of which betting on sport makes up a minor percentage alongside racing and tote betting) was responsible for less than 10% of problem gamblers. Pokies, not surprisingly, made up 80%.

– The sports betting industry is growing at around 3% a year. But don’t let that get in the way of a good headline: “Study finds explosion in sports betting despite decline in number of gamblers

Sports betting is far less repetitive and thus one of the safest, most regulated and least addictive forms of gambling available. Yet the media, fuelled by a mob seemingly angry and annoyed at one individual, often conclude differently.

‘Not far enough’ screams FitzSimons, ‘this insidious practise must be stopped’ cries the Greens. How about some perspecive? Never mind about the other 98.4% of the gambling pie, most of which includes the wicked, malicious and made-to-be-addictive poker machines.

Take this report on ABC TV’s ‘Lateline’ last night, where the main focus was on linking the sports betting industry to the tobacco industry!

We had a bloke called Michael Moore, CEO of the Public Health Association of Australia, tell us that “This is where it really relates to tobacco. It’s that business of trying to tackle teenagers… we know they’re targeting teenagers and children.” Excuse me? Any evidence?

We had a ‘mummy blogger’ tell the world that a child “on one of the sports betting sites, saw an online link to a National Australia Bank credit card that could be opened over the phone and thought he’d give that a try”. Which site? Absolute fiction.

And then worst of all we have the so-called ‘academics’. These are the go to people to fill your story with gravitas and compelling intellectual quotes. One such is Southern Cross University researcher Dr Sally Gainsbury. She says that “there is evidence that there are higher problem gambling rates among people who gamble online and these internet gamblers are more likely to gamble in a greater number of activities and also more frequently engage in gambling.”

Let’s just ignore for a moment the fact that this ‘academic’ doesn’t actually produce any evidence or that suddenly sports betting has been piled in with all forms of online gambling. What Dr Sally never tells her audience or more importantly the journalist, is that she is in the pocket of the pokie lobby. Totally ‘independent’ research, yet straight from the Clubs Australia playbook. Thanks Sal.

There was this report where Ben Eltham concludes that “the industry has made very little noise about the current proposal” and is thus happy with the reforms. That’s because the sports betting industry doesn’t have a mouthpiece! Rightly or wrongly, the Australian Wagering Council and its CEO Chris Downy have remained silent. All they had to do was point out some facts. Compare this response to the appalling campaign of misinformation by the clubs lobby over poker machine reform and the contrast is immense.

Misinformed and misguided media aside, our kids can now watch sport on TV without any gambling promotion (just flick the channel over at quarter and half time!). So life is good again for all of Australia’s impressionable teenagers? Don’t bet on it.

This article was originally published at OnThePunt.com. It has been reproduced with permission.

Tommy W ‘The Social Nuisance’

Is there a blogger, writer, commentator or journalist in Australia that hasn’t written a Tom Waterhouse piece? Three months after telling us Tom Waterhouse “Has to be stopped“, The Insider returns to the issue that the whole country is talking about.

Congratulations Tommy W.

In the space of three months, the promotion and advertising of sports betting in Australia has gone from a rarely mentioned distraction to what has now become a significant election issue.

The 10’s on near-certainty to be Prime Minister in five months has apparently bowed to popular opinion and media hysteria and indicated that he will act on advertising in sports broadcasts.

“We are natural deregulators, not regulators. But when you’ve got a significant social nuisance, it’s important for government to at least be prepared to step in,” Tony Abbott said.

Hang on a minute; don’t pokies inflict the most social pain and destruction? What does he think of them? Oh that’s right, they are part of the ‘social fabric‘.

And while Abbott’s at it with his plight against ‘social nuisances’, how about doing something to stop Facebook and Apple freely pushing ads for online casinos and such to kids through their phones and PC’s? Where is FitzSimons and co now? Anyway, I digress.

Whether Abbott is on the mark or misguided isn’t the point. The point is – how the hell did it ever come to this?

If you run a business whose primary concern is gambling, then surely the obligation is with you – no matter what the law – to RESPONSIBLY advertise and promote the business?

Racing integrity issues aside, what Tom Waterhouse has done is far from responsible. Put simply, its oversaturation and an unbearably pervasive brand of promotion.

I can’t quite work out whether it was an inflated ego or a genuine marketing tactic that saw him seek a “commentary” role with Channel Nine’s NRL coverage. Whatever the reason, it was pushing the envelope and it’s proved the tipping point for public opinion.

Some say Channel Nine are to blame for accepting the coin and allowing Waterhouse to live his dream on the commentary team. Rubbish. When you are in the business of gambling, the responsibility must be with the operator.

Even now with his ‘branded’ segment on the sideline, Waterhouse is still blurring the line between bookie and commentator.

Sure, tell us the odds. Tell us where the money’s gone. But why rattle off fifteen insignificant stats in an attempt to persuade viewers that you know the game?

You can rehearse the numbers for an hour before going to air and have as many people screaming down your ear as you like, but it still comes off as if you are trying to prove something that you are not – an NRL expert.

So, who’s trying to defend the indefensible?

Not surprisingly, some of those strongly defending Waterhouse have come from within the racing industry. These are the people with the least to lose. Racing will continue to be the true “mugs game” and any impact from any proposed advertising restrictions during sporting events will be minimal.

The Waterhouse-clan puff pieces in the Daily Telegraph from the likes of Ray Thomas have been laughable and counterproductive to their cause. Standby for Kate Waterhouse sensationally revealing that her mum is a hard worker and her brother is misunderstood in next Sunday’s edition.

And then there is this dinosaur. “Why the animosity against young Tom?,” asks Max Presnell. Utterly embarrassing stuff.

So where are we now?

Tom Waterhouse appears be burning a massive chunk of the family fortune in a continued marketing onslaught. Only time will tell as to whether there will be a significant return on the enormous investment. I highly doubt it.

But of more concern to those within the industry, sports betting advertising has now somehow become a 2013 election issue. Which politician wouldn’t jump on the bandwagon of populist opinion?

Just a few years after the lifting of cross-state advertising restrictions, one operator has gone rogue and seems intent on dragging an entire industry down with him.

This article was originally published at OnThePunt.com. It has been reproduced with permission.

The Real Gambling Menace

The real menace - poker machines

It’s become an all-in frenzy. Just about every commentator, writer and blogger in the land has had a crack at Tom Waterhouse – and rightly so. His mother and at least one “journalist” has attempted to quell the anger, but alas, it’s all been to no avail.

Everyone I’ve spoken to in the business wants to see Waterhouse pull his head in, for the damage he is doing to the wagering industry is fast becoming irreparable.

But I’m not going to dwell on what I or others think of Waterhouse and his overtly pervasive and irresponsible advertising practices. That’s been done. But some of the related commentary in the media is worth examining.

It’s as if sports betting is suddenly the most dangerous form of gambling available.

To link sports betting with high rates of problem gambling – as many journalists, psychologists and even academics have done recently – might be music to the ears of the pokie pushing Clubs industry, but it has little to do with facts.

Many commentators and like have failed to understand that different forms of gambling have different returns, different attractions and ultimately, different rates of problem gambling and addiction.

Let’s take a look at some of the facts.

Latest figures show that sports betting accounts for just 1.6% of total gambling expenditure in Australia.

The Productivity Commission report into gambling found that wagering (of which betting on sport makes up a minor percentage alongside racing and tote betting) was responsible for less than 10% of problem gamblers. Pokies, not surprisingly, made up 80%.

The same report also found that pokie players were up to 22 times more likely to be problem gamblers compared to those betting on racing. The figure for sports betting can be presumed to be even lower. Here’s why.

Let’s assume that a punter is looking for some gambling entertainment on a Saturday afternoon and is looking to risk $200 of their hard earned.

If they went to a pokie venue and assuming they played a machine at  $1 per spin (close to the average), with a maximum spin rate, their $200 would last just 100 minutes. (1200 spins or $1200 wagered per hour x 10% expected loss = $120 lost per hour)

Meanwhile, if the same punter bet $200 on the head-to-head outcome of an Aussie Rules or Rugby League match, they can be expected to lose just $10-$12. ($200 x average head-to-head fixed odds margin/expected loss of 5-6%)

In other words, two hours of “enjoyment” (and I use that term loosely) at a pokie venue will cost you $240. Two hours sitting in front of the TV watching the footy? $10-$12. Your $200 will last more than 20 times longer with sports betting – and that’s assuming you don’t gain an edge over the bookie with your bets – as some do. No one gains an edge over the pokies.

One touch of a pokie button equals one event which can last as short as 2.14 seconds where the punter will lose an average of 10% of their investment.

A punter betting on the head-to-head outcome of an Aussie Rules or Rugby League match, is betting on one event lasting around two hours where they can be expected to lose just 5-6% of their investment.

Sure, punters might bet on a few different matches, or even different betting options within each match. But, it’s not going to come close to the repetition experienced in other comparitive forms of gambling.

The whole point is that sports betting is far less repetitive – and thus far less dangerous – gambling experience.

And yes, the morally corrupt Clubs Australia really did state in their submission to the Review of the Interactive Gambling Act recently that they, “believe that the prohibition on interactive live (sports) betting should be maintained, given the potential for high rapidity betting”. I don’t know of too many sporting events that last less than 2.14 seconds.

Yes, people can become problem gamblers by participating in any form of gambling. But suggestions that ”by normalising wagering associated with these sports, there is a high risk that the prevalence of problem gambling will increase..” are just unfounded.

Surely the rate of problem gambling has to be looked at if one wants to target harm mimimisation measures and help reduce the numbers affected. But all too often people are putting all forms of gambling into the one basket.

It is pokies that undoubtedly cause the most social damage of any form of gambling available. They are purely designed to be addictive and to lure the punter into a state of mistaken hope.

This article was originally published at OnThePunt.com. It has been reproduced with permission.