Bookmaker review

As you might have already read, the Federal Government has some changes afoot in the gambling space. Basically, the government are determined to stop Aussies betting with foreign-based bookmakers.

We wrote about the first set of laws to be pushed through, and how it didn’t address the issue of bookmakers bans.

As usual, we received quite a bit of feedback on this story.

We’re constantly getting messages from punters who are banned from betting with local bookmakers. Aside from the obvious question of finding a winner, it’s the topic we hear about most often from punters.

We love the feedback, but there’s something more you can do to make a difference: make yourself heard.

A bit of background…

In 2015, the Federal Government commissioned a review into illegal offshore wagering taking place in Australia. Obviously, the explosion of online betting has broken down borders and allowed people to bet with whomever they want.

The review was chaired by former NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell and was open for submissions, which were made by bookmakers, punters and other interested parties.

The review delivered its report in March 2016, and is available here if you want to read it.

We can tell you from all the punters we speak to: few who gamble with offshore operators do so by choice. They’re forced to because they’ve been banned by local bookmakers.

Their crime? Not losing enough money.

It leads to the obvious conclusion that bookmakers in Australia should be licensed to do just that: frame and manage a book, and collect their percentage. Not target and engage those who are going to lose the most money, and simply refuse to do business with the rest. It’s an approach that has torn the industry to pieces in the UK, and now local bookmakers – most owned and operated by those same British firms – have brought it here.

In practice the solution is simple: as Racing Victoria and Racing NSW have already done in their respective states, implement a national minimum bet law which forces licensed bookmakers to accept all bets of a reasonable amount. It vastly decreases the need for any punter to go offshore to bet.

Compare it to another fast-growing web activity, online shopping.

You want a new pair of shoes. Except every Australian retailer simply refuses to sell them to you because they don’t think they can make enough money. They’re available online however from an overseas retailer. What would you do?

And what do you think the response of most Australians would be if the government then decided it was going to ban online shopping as a result?

Unfortunately, swamped by submissions from bookmakers and their specialist government lobby groups – some making laughably and clearly false statements on the subject – the O’Farrell Review stopped short of recommending a minimum bet law. It did, however, make the following recommendation:

Further research should be undertaken on the impact of betting restrictions on illegal offshore wagering and the identification of options to improve the situation.

The government released their response to the review (you can read that here), and thankfully agreed with the recommendation:

The Government will 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.

The man responsible for this area is Alan Tudge, Minister for Human Services.

Unfortunately, the release of the first measures to be implemented as a result of the O’Farrell Review included nothing in this area. We contacted Minister Tudge’s office regarding this, and were told he had no comment to make on the topic.

So what can you do?

Simple. Make yourself heard.

Contact Minister Tudge and tell him exactly what you’ve been telling us:


[email protected]


Alan Tudge
Federal Member for Aston
Suite 4, Level 1, 420 Burwood Highway
Wantirna South Vic 3152

If you think bookmakers should have to deal with all punters as part of their license, rather than just losing and problem gambers, then tell him.

Contacting the man himself takes no longer than it does to contact us. And it will make a difference to the future of the industry – and your ability to have a punt.


  1. I actually did what you suggest, emailing Alan Tudge some months back when I heard the current Bill was soon to be introduced.

    The only response I got was along the lines of protecting the consumer and problem gambling.

    In regard to minimum bet laws, the response was along the lines of it being a State government issue. He showed no interest in the topic at all.

  2. unfortunately, the minimum wager laws will only hasten the Corporates willingness to ban any punters who are in the least bit smart. Over the past 3 years I have had accounts with every Corporate in Australia and only one has not restricted me so far and two just recently closed my accounts with the only explanation being
    We wish to advise that, following a recent review, we have decided to close your account.

    I used to work for a bookmaker in London in the 70’s and there were not many smart punters around in those days -not as many as now anyway – but if we did have a smartie placing big bets we just laid his bets off if we were uncomfortable with them, often making a profit in the process. My old boss would turn in his grave if he could see what the Corporates are doing nowadays. It is not bookmaking anymore with them just wanting the mug punter. Could you imagine Woolies banning a shopper if they were only buying the loss leader items?
    In desperation I opened an off shore account with 10Bet – now called Betrally, for my sports betting. I must say I felt very uncomfortable with whole process and dealings, and eventually I withdrew all my money. One warning to anyone opening an account with some of the “offshores” who offer big bonus bets to become a customer – their turnover requirements, should you back a winner with any bonus amount, are often very much stricter than here in Oz and sometimes damn near impossible to transact unless you want to take some losses by getting as close to an arb as you can.
    Nearly all my betting is done on Betfair nowadays and perhaps in the future this will be the way of the future? Exhanges. There are only so many highly profitable gamblers to go around for the Corporates. You can’t just blame the British takeovers here either – IAS bet and Tom Waterhouse did the same to me before the takeovers.

  3. Critical point from Tone above. THIS IS NOT BOOKMAKING! Yeah, I’m a crusty old bugger who remembers those extinct creatures (bookies), which if you are nostalgic, you can can see poor representations of (in captivity) on the rails at your local racetrack.

    All jokes aside, it is not even close to bookmaking. Remember when a bookie shafted you on track, or wouldn’t accept your bet because he was stupid enough to put it up ten points over the odds? Off to the bs (bookmakers supervisor) and it was a done deal. Maybe that’s what we need, a modern equivalent, but of course that is enforcement and first we must make the rules a more sensible and reasonable fit for our wagering landscape.

    Personally, I don’t think it is ever going to happen and we who seek to profit from the same sector as the corporates do (i.e. The mug or recreational players) are simply out-gunned. We can go on forever about how much punters put into the system but the corporates have more cash and more clout via lobbying which costs. They are corporates after all and as we can now clearly see, these are not bookmakers. Don Scott told us back in the sixties this would happen (not quite in this fashion) but told us not to worry because the mugs would always be about and all we had to do was play the same market and we’d be fine. Unfortunately Don did not foresee the possibility that we would be denied access to our bread and butter. BTW, mugs is a term not an insult. We have all had mug bets (I call them play bets) I am sure. These were based on non-technical sources i.e. tips, horses I like etc. It’s sort of fun to be a mug now and then as a break from the work.

    I don’t know where it goes from here and I feel especially put out by all this corporate crap. I do not bet on ANYTHING else but thoroughbred horse racing, exclusively in Australia and mostly in Victoria. I am sick and tired of being assaulted by corporate marketing for all manner of wagering. I know there are good profit margins for punters to be had in these other sporting areas but my expertise is local racing and you should always play to your strengths, yes? The mugs and players seem to come out of the woodwork for these other wagering types and now we very genuinely have a serious social issue.

    Governments make money from corporates but not as much from us. That’s why Mr Tudge can have no comment on a subject he is clearly designated to respond to. They don’t care about the problem gamblers and pay lip service to whole issue, just as they do with tobacco, while they profit from it anyway. Not hard to see where the real problem lies is it?