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Gambling, Government Federal

Online inducements leading to riskier gambling – Betting companies exploiting loophole, targeting people in debt

Alliance for Gambling Reform 2 mins read

Betting companies are taking advantage of weak advertising and consumer protection laws to offer inducements that encourage riskier bets and are cynically targeting people with gambling problems through tailored, personalised marketing.

Inducements are insidiously packaged so a customer feels they are taking a ‘safer bet’, when research shows it actually leads to more intense betting and greater losses, according to a new Alliance for Gambling Reform policy paper released today.

Inducements are most commonly associated with sports betting and racing and take many forms including refund or stake-back offers, sign-up offers, providing a bonus or better odds, multi-bet offers, or winnings paid on losing bets.

“Online gambling inducements are wreaking enormous gambling harm across our country, they are fuelling more intensive and riskier betting that is leading to massive gambling losses,” the Interim CEO of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, Martin Thomas, said.
“Australians lose more than $25 billion a year to gambling and the fastest growing form of gambling is online betting. And inducements, that drive some of the riskiest gambling behaviours, are woefully ignored by current regulations.”

The policy paper warned that online gambling inducements cause significant harm. It found that: 

  • Inducements lead to increased, more impulsive, and more risky betting, as well as strong temptations to drop resolutions around controlled gambling.

  • Gamblers tend to underestimate the true cost of wagering inducements and overestimate the potential benefits.

  • Online gambling inducements increase the likelihood of gamblers chasing gambling losses and feeling a loss of control.

  • Direct messaging to gamblers via e-mails, texts, and phone calls from gambling operators avoid scrutiny and influence higher risk gambling. 

  • The Federal Parliamentary Inquiry into Online Gambling (June 2023), chaired by the late Labor MP, Peta Murphy, found that inducements significantly contribute to gambling harm.

It found that “banning inducements and inducement advertising is a key measure for reducing online gambling harm and ensuring that one of the significant incubators of gambling harm, VIP programs, have no place in Australia”.
The inquiry heard that current restrictions do not go far enough to prevent harm and noted “marketing naturally flows to the unregulated gaps”. 

Mr Thomas said the Murphy Report, which recommended a crackdown on inducement and a phased in ban on all gambling advertising, had now been in the Federal Government’s hands for more than a year.

“It is time now time for the government to do the right thing, to protect Australians from gambling harm and a predatory gambling industry and adopt all 31 recommendations of the Murphy Report, including the recommendation to ban inducements and inducement advertising,” Mr Thomas said.
“We cannot trust the gambling industry to police itself and we must start to protect people, especially our children, who are being targeted by gambling companies.”

Martin Thomas is available for interview on 0477 340 704

About us:

The Alliance is a national advocacy organisation which works to prevent and minimise the harm from gambling. Our aim is to remove the shame that surrounds gambling addiction, have the problem treated as a public health issue, and achieve the legislative changes needed to protect our communities. We bring together well over 60 organisations who share the objectives of preventing harm from gambling.

Contact details:

Media contact: Martin Thomas – 0477 340 704

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