A recovering drug addict has slammed ‘predatory’ online betting companies for sending him promotional material, even though he signed up to self-exclude.
- Mark was furious to receive an email from a website he had never used offering special offers for the Melbourne Cup
- An expert says it should be easier to close a betting account and block unwanted advertising material
- This happened when the federal government announced that the “gambling responsibly” slogan on advertisements would be replaced with a series of new slogans.
Mark has already lost up to $100,000 over several years from gambling, but despite his best efforts, he still receives promotional text messages and emails from gambling companies.
“There is a self-exclusion register that all businesses receive,” he told local ABC Hobart radio.
“They’re supposed to tick those names off before they even think about sending anyone any publicity material, let alone trying to get them to try to sign up.”
While Mark said his recovery was “going very well”, he was furious to receive an email from BetNation.com.au, a gambling site he had never used, offering special offers for the Melbourne Cup.
“If you’re just starting to try to quit playing, that’s the hardest part,” he said.
“There are 978 ads on free TV a day, not to mention pay TV. It’s so hard to try to get away from it and this predatory behavior to try and get people to come back, it’s disgusting. “
Amused Group, who recently launched BetNation.com.au, have been contacted for comment.
The opt-out must be easier: academic
The director of the University of Sydney’s Gambling and Treatment Research Clinic, Professor Sally Gainsbury, said closing a betting account and blocking unwanted advertising material should be easier.
“This should happen automatically when you close your account, but when you reopen your account, you get these (ads),” she said.
“That’s why betting companies are in such a rush to sign people up. So if you create an account for a one-time bet like the Melbourne Cup or a Grand Final, then you will have an account and continue to receive marketing information .”
Professor Gainsbury said the approach to gambling advertising depended on whether society saw it as an “acceptable activity that many adults indulged in without harm” or something to be minimised.
But she said at-risk gamblers should take action and not “wait for the problems to get so bad that you have to self-exclude”.
“I would encourage people to set a deposit limit so they can only spend what is affordable to them, to think about taking time out, and to opt out of marketing that encourages them to gamble more than they intended.” she declared.
New regulations on the way
As generational and technological changes push more bettors online, the federal government is reconsidering its regulatory approach.
This week it announced that the “play responsibly” tagline on ads will be replaced with a series of new taglines, including “chances are you’re about to lose” and “imagine what you could buy instead”.
A new national consumer protection framework for online betting will also provide a national opt-out regime, meaning risky gamblers will no longer need to opt-out in the jurisdiction where the operator is licensed.
A spokesman for the Tasmanian Department of Treasury and Finance said the program was “well advanced and will start operating once the final stages of testing are complete”.
“The (National Consumer Protection Framework) also includes restrictions on incentives, including that all direct-to-customer marketing can only be sent to customers who give express consent, and that the customer must be able to easily unsubscribe from receipt of direct marketing materials,” the spokesperson said.
Mark welcomed Tasmania’s plan to introduce mandatory pre-commitments for poker machines, but said online gambling addiction could become the next “pandemic” for young people.
“Slot machines aren’t what young people go to these days. It’s the online stuff you have access to every day,” he said.
“I have no problem with people playing, but trying to indoctrinate in people’s heads that you have to play to enjoy your sport… that’s what needs to change.”