ban hammer

An all-too-familiar tale of woe yesterday in the Champion Bets office.

More messages from punters who’ve had their stakes severely limited by corporate bookies after a short successful period.

It’s become the bane of the punter’s existence.  Thankfully racing (in New South Wales and Victoria at least) has had the wisdom to deal with it and implement industry minimum bet limits, forcing bookmakers to actually manage a book rather than simply filter out any punter who may possess a brain cell or two.

For other sports, the battle continues.

Most banned punters we speak to are forced to seek other solutions, which usually means finding bookies from other countries who’ll take their action.

The impact of this on things at home has a few facets.

For the winning punter, life gets a bit more difficult.  Many still manage to get their bets on somewhere, but not with the ease that comes with betting locally.

Once upon a time, if a bookie was being beaten they might be inclined to sharpen their market.  The inherent percentage advantage a bookmaker holds in any market ensured them a profit as long as basic bookmaking competence was displayed.

No more.  The garbage markets and lines remain: rather, anybody smart enough to beat them is kicked out.

The other party with skin in the game is the government.

Financially, as soon as that money goes offshore, it’s gone forever.  Out of the Australian economy.  Untaxed.

Socially, it means the local subsidiaries (eg Ladbrokes, William Hill, Sportsbet, Unibet) of foreign-owned companies are purely targeting losing gamblers in order to turn profits to send back overseas.

It’s an industry model that encourages chasing those customers who lose the most.  That’s obviously going to include problem gamblers.

So who is benefiting here?

The government are slowly getting their heads around it, but their initial focus (that we spoke about last week) simply involves attempting to ban the use of overseas bookmakers.

It doesn’t address the root of the problem and let’s be honest, it’s hard to see it working anyway: technology generally remains a few steps ahead of any government efforts to curb it.

We were told last week that the man charged with implementing these measures, Federal Minister for Human Services Alan Tudge, had no response to our questions regarding the seemingly strong case for a national minimum bet law.

Tudge is implementing recommendations from Barry O’Farrell’s review of the Interactive Gambling Act.

The government’s own response to those recommendations includes a commitment to “examine the existing literature base on betting limits, commission further research, and undertake further consultations to explore options to address the impact of betting restrictions imposed by Australian licensed bookmakers, which have been cited as a factor in decisions to gamble offshore.”

Logic suggests it may well be the key factor.

When will we see action?


  1. HI Mark

    I have heard from a couple of sources that the Corporates are losing or not making that much profit on Aus racing and it might end up that they provide markets on Sports only. I’m not sure if you have heard the same thing.

    If this has some truth to it, surely there could be a resurgence of on-course bookmakers??


    • Not something I’ve heard Simon, but I’d very much doubt it. The margins on sports betting just aren’t there to support such a model – they need racing.

      The issue for on-course bookies is that you can easily bet from anywhere with the corporates. Though a few on-course bookies have reasonable online offers as well.

  2. Hi Mark,

    that comment above about the lack of government understanding, relating to punting and punters is very much a critical one. I am a punter, and I would like to think, an intelligent one. I have listened over many years to experts of Dom’s ilk and I know that what appears to be a simple action (i.e. wagering) is a actually a very complex issue. I fear too complex for the current muppet brigade incumbent in the halls of power.

    I like horses. Thoroughbred horses. I bet on nothing else. No sports, no dogs no pokies, no trots. I am disciplined and do not bet when I cannot afford to do so. I do have the occasional ‘play bet’ of modest proportions but when I am truly punting it is a reasoned and considered approach. If the government is even aware such people exist, they show no signs of it and treat us all as if we have a social disorder. Problem gambling is hideous. I am very strong on this even though I have punted all my life.

    I am disgusted at the blatant exploitation of those unlucky enough to be afflicted with this condition. It destroys lives and families and I just hate it. But what is being done about the aggressive way corporates market their products? Full of deception and dirty underhanded tactics which seem to work very effectively with problem gamblers. They flood the prime time television markets with their offerings and it is now so over-the-top that something regulatory really has to be done. Probably something akin to the tobacco approach.

    Somewhere in this mess lurk a few educated people who basically stand in disbelief at the way greed and corporate interest has tainted something that has been a pleasure for most of my life. I am not a professional punter currently but have been at various times (I’m 62 so I’ve been around). I am considering a return but must consolidate my bank first or else I’ll just end up like the poor mugs. I cannot honestly say what I expect from any government reviews on this topic, but previous experiences tell me it will be nothing like a solution (if there is one). Inevitably government bows to the corporate ethic that ‘We must be allowed to rip people off because we can’t make a profit otherwise”! Real bookmakers have/had skill, these idiots only have a government supplied license to print money.