A recovering gambling addict has slammed “predatory” online betting companies for sending him promotional material even though he has registered for self-exclusion.
- Mark was furious to receive an email from a website he had never used offering special deals for the Melbourne Cup
- One expert said it needed to be easier to close a betting account and block unwanted advertising material
- It came as the federal government announced the “gamble responsibly” tagline on advertisements will be replaced by a suite of new slogans
Mark once lost up to $100,000 over several years to gambling, but despite his best efforts, he still receives text messages and promotional emails from gambling companies.
“There’s a self-exclusion register which all companies are given,” he told ABC Hobart local radio.
“They are supposed to check off those names before they even think about sending anyone any advertising material, let alone trying to get them to try and sign up.”
While Mark said his recovery was “going really well”, he was furious to receive an email from BetNation.com.au, a gaming website he had never used, offering special deals for the Melbourne Cup.
“If you’re just starting to try and stop gambling, this is the hardest part,” he said.
“There are 978 ads on free-to-air TV a day, let alone on pay TV. It is that hard to try and get away from it and this predatory behaviour to try and entice people back, it’s disgusting.”
Amused Group, which recently launched BetNation.com.au, was contacted for comment.
Opting out needs to be easier: academic
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 needed to be easier.
“It should happen automatically when you close your account but when you reopen your account you get those (advertisements),” she said.
“That’s why there’s such a hurry for wagering companies to sign people up. So if you create an account for a one-off bet like the Melbourne Cup or a grand final, you will then have an account and continue to receive marketing information.”
Professor Gainsbury said the approach to gambling advertising depended on whether society viewed it as an “acceptable activity that many adults engaged in without experiencing harm” or something to minimise.
But she said at-risk gamblers should take action and not “wait until problems become so severe you have to self-exclude”.
“I would encourage people to set a deposit limit so that they can only spend what’s affordable to them, to think about taking time out and opt out of marketing that does encourage them to gamble more than intended,” she said.
New regulations on the way
As generational and technological change pushes more punters online, the federal government is reconsidering its regulatory approach.
This week it announced the “gamble responsibly” tagline on advertisements will be replaced by a suite of new slogans, including “chances are you’re about to lose” and “imagine what you could be buying instead”.
A new National Consumer Protection Framework for online wagering will also provide a national exclusion scheme, which means at-risk gamblers will no longer need to exclude themselves in the jurisdiction where the operator is licensed.
A spokesperson for Tasmania’s Department of Treasury and Finance said the scheme was “well advanced and will commence operating once the final testing stages have been completed”.
“The (National Consumer Protection Framework) also includes restrictions on incentives, including that all direct marketing to customers may only be sent to customers who provide their express consent, and that the customer must be able to easily unsubscribe from receiving 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.
“The pokies aren’t what young people go to these days. It’s the online stuff where you’ve got access to it every day,” he said.
“I’ve got no issue with people gambling but to try and indoctrinate in people’s heads that you need to gamble to enjoy your sport … that’s what needs to change.”