16 Sep

Is Live Sports Betting a worse Catalyst for Problem Gambling than Pokies?

Live sports betting, also known as “in-play” betting, is swiftly becoming one of the most popular forms of gambling on sporting events. While that’s great for today’s most responsible and strategic punters, experts and politicians alike say it could spell disaster for individuals prone to problem gambling.

Live Sports Betting in AustraliaUnlike traditional sports betting, wherein punters place their bets based on which team or contender they think will win the event prior to the start of the contest, in-play sports betting allows a punter to place bets on a game while the contest is underway, such as who will earn the next point in tennis, or the next team to score in a football match.

Not all sportsbooks offer live betting, but for those who do, it seems to be much easier to entice consumers into placing spur-of-the-moment bets. According to financial counselor Pam Mutton, who specializes in the field of problem gambling at Melbourne’s Bentleigh Bayside Community Health Centre, the beguiling tactics used by these operators to lure punters into placing more bets is deplorable.

“It’s fast. It’s online. It’s wherever you are. It’s on your phone. It never goes away,” Mutton protested. And to make matters worse, she told ABC News 7.30, “It’s constantly sending you emails and requests — ‘have a punt on this’.”

Ms. Mutton called in-play sports betting “the most dangerous form of online gambling we are about to face.” While she doesn’t believe it’s become an issue “just yet”, she predicted “the escalation of it will make pokies look like a picnic.”

Independent Senator Nick Xenophon sympathizes with Ms. Mutton’s viewpoint, but his major area of concern lies within the availability of loans with no standard credit check. He called the use of unsolicited inducement “predatory”, condemning the fact that Australian law condones such contemptible business practices.

“The great irony here is that a bank, any financial institution, must be governed by provisions of consumer credit legislation,” argued Sen. Xenophon, “and yet these companies can offer massive amounts of credit.”

He explained the legality of the issue as being due to the fact that sports betting operations do not charge interest on advancements, therefore do not require regulation. As such, Sen. Xenophon said, “people can get into a lot of trouble very quickly”.

Online In-Play Sports Betting Technically Illegal

Technically, placing a live bet on a sporting event over the internet is illegal in Australia. In order to place live sports wagers, the punter must either do so in person, or over the phone. But offshore internet sportsbooks have begun circumventing those laws by advising punters to simply use the microphone on their mobile device or laptop to convey in-play bets.

The Australian government has tasked Social Services Minister Scott Morrison to spearhead an investigation into online gambling and deliver a review of the best methods that could be taken to tighten the reigns against illegal offshore operators.

Upon accepting the assignment, Morrison listed a number of statistics and facts relating to online wagering and problem gambling in the country. “These are not arguments for banning interactive gambling,” he said, “but cases for common sense to drive the development of more effective measures to negate, wherever possible, the adverse social and economic impacts of these new and growing forms of gambling.”