6 December 2019
The Alliance for Gambling Reform is echoing calls for a Royal Commission into gambling after revelations from the ABC’s Investigations team regarding the behaviour of Bet365.
The reports of a “ban or bankrupt” approach to gamblers by Bet365 demonstrated the need for a thorough investigation of gambling operations in Australia that only a Royal Commission can undertake, Alliance Chief Advocate Rev Tim Costello said.
“The allegations about delays being added to gamblers’ accounts indicate there are some serious issues around the propriety of Bet365, and the gambling industry more broadly,” Rev Costello said.
“Bet365 is using data and algorithms to maximise profits, but in doing so they are exacerbating gambling harm. They can and should be using this data to identify harmful levels of gambling to provide help to those who need it, not exploiting people for staggeringly high profits.
“As one of the people featured in the ABC’s Background Briefing podcast said: ‘As soon as you start losing they’ll open you up to lose more and more and more. You can bet bigger and bigger amounts. It’s the opposite of responsible gambling.’ That is truly disturbing and should be investigated.”
The passing of legislation to permit note feeders on poker machines in South Australia this week was another example of why a Royal Commission into gambling was needed, Rev Costello said.
“The SA Government and Opposition had heard repeatedly about the increased harm poker machine note feeders would bring to the state, yet they ignored these warnings and chose to pass legislation that only benefits the industry,” he said. “Why is that? Perhaps the donations made by the Australian Hotels Association to both the Liberal and Labor parties has something to do with it?
“Only a Royal Commission can fully investigate these connections to power.”
Rev Costello also called on Cricket Australia to reconsider its “gold sponsorship” arrangement with Bet365 in light of the ABC reports’ revelations.
“It’s unacceptable for our children to be constantly exposed to gambling advertising as they watch their favourite sport over the summer,” he said. “The boundaries of our cricket grounds are literally lined with Bet365 signage, normalising a connection between gambling and cricket that did not exist until recent years.
“Cricket Australia rightly declined sponsorship from gambling companies for the Big Bash League, recognising that gambling has no place in such a family-friendly environment. We applaud them for that, but question why they cannot recognise the same issues apply with test and one day cricket.”
Rev Costello encouraged people to send through their stories of gambling harm or industry insider information to the ABC.
“Just this week the latest national gambling data revealed Australians lost $25 billion in one year. Sports betting grew 16 percent in that year, with losses doubling in five years. ” Rev Costello said.
“We are grateful to the ABC for shining a light on this nationally important issue. We hope many people will take up the opportunity to expose the industry’s manipulation of people.
“Gambling harm is a very real problem for hundreds of thousands of people and families around Australia. It is a public health issue that has been essentially ignored by governments of all colours for far too long.
"We hope this important work by the ABC will draw the necessary attention for meaningful gambling reform to take place in Australia. This collective burying of heads in the sand must end.”
Media contact: Rebecca Thorpe on 0491 209 436 or firstname.lastname@example.org