Australia Gambling Giants using LinkedIn to Snare New Punters
A gambler who has confessed he is a problem gambler has been approached on the social media network LinkedIn by an international gambling giant for him to sigh up as a VIP account h older to receive a matched deposit of up to $500. Australia has the biggest gamblers in the world, in a very competitive market online bookmakers are using different techniques to attract many people to opening new accounts, they also include an offer of free bets. This confessed problem gambler a few years ago closed his account with a bookmaker when he realised that he was a ‘problem gambler’. Just a few months later, after the closure of the account, he started receiving unsolicited calls, emails and texts from competitors for him to sign up with them. Recently the man who wishes to remain anonymous was approached on LinkedIn by Ladbrokes, and he accepted the invitation as he has an interest an racing. He said that Ladbrokes could not have known about his gambling problem. During 2011 prominent online betting agency, Sportsbet.com.au, admitted in a parliamentary inquiry that it paid roughly $3-$4 million to third parties who refereed gamblers to them, and potential clients were often offered free bets. It is well known as common practices that corporate bookmakers offer free bets to their existing account holders who have not bet for a period of time. In the state of Victoria it is illegal for bookmakers to offer potential clients inducements, offers such as, free bets, rewards or credit to open betting accounts. Fines for breeching these rues are very low at $3,000 which is not much of a deterrent. Jane Garret the Minister for Gaming and Liquor Regulation, has flagged the fact that the government intends to increase these fines. The Responsible Gambling Ministerial Advisory Group has been approached to look into inducements offered and referrals from existing account holders. The Andrews Labor government has expressed concern regarding the practice of corporate bookmakers who make unsolicited offers potential account holders through referral programs from existing account holders, said a spokeswoman. She stated that the government will make an announcement in regards to this field shortly. Despite laws in place, there have only been two prosecutions for breech of inducements in Victoria over the past three years. Ms Garrett has requested that the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation must focus heavily on the corporate bookmakers, plus it is understood that the ‘Do Not Call Register’ could also be applied to bookmakers who make unsolicited communications. Spokesperson, Tim Costello, from Alliance for Gambling Reform, said the level aggression shown by these companies was sickening, and by using sites such as LinkedIn for targeting gamblers is a new low. He continued that when a person’s mobile phone is targeted by bookies then you can never be safe. The gamblng companies were not breaking the law, Mr Costello said they were way ahead of the law. However he did say that politicians must do more about keeping up with technology in order to protect people. Ladbrokes themselves declined to comment.