What’s been happening: Minimum bet laws, data access and industry news
The blog has been pretty quiet this year as I spend most of my time on the new website. Apart from the monthly updates and the Dailytrades and Dailyprofit puff pieces, there hasn’t been much written on the blog. But that’s not because there is nothing to say, just that I have very little time and as nothing has been formalised and still ongoing, there are no concrete results yet.
Apart from working on the new site, I have also been making submissions, taking interviews and participating in meetings all to do with the new laws coming into play soon. I’ve been talking to the government about fair data use, activity statements, a self-exclusion site, minimum bet laws, enticements and a host of other topics.
Just yesterday I had a meeting with members of the Illegal Offshore Wagering Policy Section and a few other government workers all looking into what laws need to be put in place. As you can tell from the official sounding title, the major aim is to shut down offshore wagering. But they were also tasked with looking into all the recommendations set out by Barry O’Farrel in the review he completed last year before being named the chief executive of Racing Australia just a few months later.
I won’t share too much right now as nothing is official and I wouldn’t want to give the sportsbooks any extra info, but it looks like the decision has been made on a few areas. There will be a government led self-exclusion site, but that will be all you can do at the site. You will not be able to set your betting limits there, check how much you have lost or any other things that would make this site what it needs to be. It is a satisfactory first step, but a lot more needs to be done to address the recommendations put forward in the review.
We also had a discussion on what data needs to be given to users in regard to their betting histories. Sadly, if a user wants to get an overall picture of their betting, they will need to download each history manually and combine them to get a fuller understanding of their profit or loss. The upcoming site I am working on will do all of this automatically anyway, and while I am disappointed that the government is not creating a similar site, it will make my life easier now that the bookies will be required to give this information in a standard format.
We talked about inducements as well, but I am not sure what they will be doing in regards to this. The other surprise was that without my prompting, they brought up the minimum bet law and had a lot of questions about how it should be structured if it was to go ahead. It was good to see that they are across all the areas punters really care about.
A few weeks before that I was also interviewed by a researcher working for the department of social services. This was all about account closures, why we bet offshore and a general chat about how bookmakers treat their customers. The researcher was overwhelmed by the number of people who had contacted her wanting to share their experiences.
So it seems the government is working hard on this and talking to all relevant parties. But putting all your eggs in one basket is not wise, and there is more than 1 way to skin a cat. Yep, I used two proverbs in 1 sentence.
I’ve spent the last two year trying to get in contact with the larger sporting bodies and sent many emails and never received a reply. Luckily for me, a few years ago I helped the government with some other gambling related issues and one of the people I talked to now works for one of these sporting bodies in the exact area I was trying to contact. He was very interested in what was happening in the industry and how bookmakers were taking advantage of punters and the sporting bodies. I’ve slowly realised that in all these cases, you need to frame the problem/solution in a way that benefits these government/sporting bodies interests. That comes down to revenue.
At least we have a number of avenues to a minimum bet law. But I still find it extremely unlikely a few punters (big kudos to @Riracing) can compete against the many millions the bookies spend on lobbyist, lawyers and the like all to sweet talk the government into letting them keep the status quo. Only time will tell if a fair and just bookmaking system will be created on our shores.
In other new
As Sportsbet’s market share continues to be eroded, they have admitted that they do limit customers and begged some of them to come back and bet again. I’m sure they have seen more customers leave them to go and place their bets at Centrebet and are trying to get them back. But the email below was only sent to certain customers. Sadly, I was not one of them. I’m not sure what sort of algorithm they designed to choose who were the lucky few, but a few pro gamblers I know who make a heap more than me received these emails. Maybe I didn’t get one because my reviews of their sportsbooks are a little more honest than the other sites who have affiliate agreements they need to protect.
It may also be a case that they have seen the writing on the wall about minimum bet laws and want to have something to show to the government. Maybe they want to show that they can, in fact, police themselves and they have opened up accounts again. But when they continue to pick and choose which clients they will take a bet from, this just reiterates the need for the government to step in and force all bookmakers to take bets from all customers.
There is a lot more going on, but nothing I can share just yet. Rest assured, there are a few of us trying to improve the sports betting landscape in Australia.