Representatives from some of Australia’s largest sports betting operators, SportsBet and Entain, have recently been questioned in contribution to a parliamentary inquiry into Australian gambling regulations.
At a hearing in Canberra, House of Representatives committee chair, Peta Murphy questioned several influential industry representatives in relation to accusations that there is an industry plaguing issue. The inquiry alleged that betting companies enact some form of block against gamblers who appear to be on a successful run. Actions such as reducing maximum bets or preventing access all together.
Entain and SportBet
Asking about specific practices, Entain’s Steven Lang explained that, of 698,000 active customers in 2022, an impressive 176,000 had made money from their bets. Highlighting to the committee, that the company is required to offer bets to everyone for horse races. Although, it was conceded that minor exclusion and limitations may be applied for other events.
Later in the hearing the CEO of SportsBet, Barni Evans, stated that customers are only blocked in a far narrower selection of cases to justify the accusatory criteria. This specified, “If we believe that they’re acting with information that the rest of the market doesn’t have, and if their behaviour is distorting the market, which means that other customers’ experience is affected, then we will take action,”
A concisely abrupt exchange would not render any digression from either side with Evans re-iterating several versions of the same response to the committee chair.
The ARL and NRL
Regarding any potential re-regulation or legislative amendment, the CEOs of the National Football and Rugby Leagues of Australia (AFL and NRL respectively) were also questioned by the committee. Similar responses were afforded by both organisation executives, who expressed a push back to any changes to regulation, stating that current measures are appropriate.
AFL’s Gillion McLachlan requested balanced proceedings from the committee, arguing that betting inducements such as advertising was an issue but not an industry defining problem.
However, a recent statement from McLachlan himself suggests that the AFL may have stronger vested interests in this line of questioning. Admitting that his organisation receives compensation from gambling turnovers separate from the already understood sponsorships. Benefiting from a massive uptick in recent years as the popularity of online sports betting skyrockets.
The CEO of the NRL stated he was open to tweaks and minor adjustments in regulation but reinforced McLachlan’s request for balance. The validity of his organisation’s objectivity is also questionable as the NRL has secured a disproportionate share of revenue from gambling partnerships let alone any exterior agreement.
Problem gambling in Australia
A true surprise was brought to the committee when the CEO of the Australian Banking Association revealed that a staggering half-a-million Australians have self-vetoed their gambling expenditure through their bank. This strongly suggests that a tightening or amendment to regulation to affect entities throughout is required, with problem gambling a serious issue across the $25 billion industry.
The committee will bring their findings to the slew of regulatory re-assessments currently sweeping through Australia’s most lucrative industry, delivering their recommendations by the middle of the year.