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Australia Sports betting and gambling need a royal commission, Tim Costello and Andrew Wilkie say

10:12  06 december  2019
10:12  06 december  2019 Source:   abc.net.au

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We need a royal commission . Tim Costello . As the sordid allegations pile up, state and federal governments are effectively silent. H ow many more allegations of connections between gambling and nefarious activities in Victoria need to come out before a royal commission into this exploitative

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Federal MP Andrew Wilkie and Reverend Tim Costello are calling for a royal commission into gambling that includes the sports betting industry.

Reverend Tim Costello (left) and independent MP Andrew Wilkie support a royal commission into gambling.© AAP: Alan Porritt/Mick Tsikas Reverend Tim Costello (left) and independent MP Andrew Wilkie support a royal commission into gambling. It follows revelations by the ABC that one of the largest sports betting agencies is using secret algorithms, restrictions and delaying tactics to skew the competition and drive up profits.

"Gamblers use these sites in good faith, assuming they're playing an honest game," Mr Wilkie said. "But if this allegation is correct, then gamblers are being cheated.

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Andrew Wilkie - Independent Federal MP (03) 6234 5255 andrew . wilkie .mp@aph.gov.au. Andrew supports the limited ban on betting ads from live sporting events on TV and radio before 8.30pm. The ban is a good first step, but the Government should go further and ban all gambling ads during

Our Chief Advocate Rev Tim Costello writes: “How many more allegations of connections between gambling and nefarious activities in We need a royal commission | Tim Costello . Vile. We're hearing that sports betting companies are sending direct mail marketing offering credit to gamble to

"Not only should we have a royal commission very broadly into gambling generally, including casinos, of course, but now into sports betting as well."

Mr Wilkie has previously called for a royal commission into Crown after a whistleblower came forward with CCTV footage and allegations that foreign high rollers avoid customs inspections and exchange huge amounts of cash with no trace at its Melbourne casino.

"The picture's pretty clear that the gambling industry in this country is pretty rotten. Any sort of national inquiry should look at all aspects of it, including sports betting."

Reverend Costello, chief advocate for the Alliance for Gambling Reform, told the ABC that "piecemeal" inquiries were not going to cut it, and a royal commission was crucial for bringing the problems to light.

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Reverend Tim Costello (left) of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, Senator Nick Xenophon (centre) and Andrew Wilkie MP speak at a press conference outlining their gambling reform agenda for the new parliament on July 14, 2016 in Melbourne. Paul Jeffers. Mr Wilkie said they want to re-establish

The anti- gambling campaigner Tim Costello said the Alliance for Gambling Reform was calling on the Turnbull government to ban sports betting Gillard eventually balked and Wilkie accused her of breaching the agreement they had signed after the 2010 election to enforce serious gambling reforms.

"No government will ever act to reform gambling in Australia because of political donations, because of political capture," Reverend Costello said.

"Only a royal commission will actually get to the central question: How has Australia ended up with the biggest gambling losses per head in the world?"

'Truly disturbing' allegations

Former bet365 customer account supervisor James Poppleton told the ABC in an exclusive interview that the betting agency has a set of secret tactics that target winning punters.

"You can't win, those that win are stopped. Those that lose are exploited and then they develop cheating techniques as well," Mr Poppleton said.

James Poppleton says punters © ABC News: Kyle Taylor James Poppleton says punters "can't win" at his former workplace. ABC Investigations also obtained a series of documents from inside bet365 that reveal how winning customers are restricted from betting large amounts with the company.

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Bet365 told the ABC in a statement that its service is provided "in accordance with its published terms and conditions and all applicable laws and regulations".

As part of those terms and conditions, it can close or suspend an account at any time for any reason.

Mr Poppleton also claimed these algorithms applied not just to winners, but those who lose as well.

"As soon as you start losing, they'll open you up to lose more and more and more, you can bet bigger and bigger amounts," he said.

"If you stop winning, you're allowed to bet more and more and more. It's the opposite of responsible gambling."

Reverend Costello said the allegations were "truly disturbing and should be investigated".

"Bet365 is using data and algorithms to maximise profits, but in doing so they are exacerbating gambling harm," he said.

"They can and should be using this data to identify harmful levels of gambling to provide help to those who need it, not exploiting people for staggeringly high profits."

Bet365 said it had "a robust responsible gambling policy in place to monitor each customer's gambling patterns and expenditure and ensure that their gambling behaviour is within responsible limits".

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Tasmanian independent MP Andrew Wilkie has joined the South Australian senator and The trio say gambling reform has overwhelming support of Australians with the spread of The group, backed by Mr Costello 's Alliance for Gambling Reform, wants to ban TV betting advertising during sports

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Calls for a national regulator

Bet365 is a privately owned, UK-based company that is licensed to operate in Australia by the Northern Territory.

Mr Wilkie said Australia needed a national gambling regulator.

"Up until now, gambling in this country has been largely regulated by the state and territory governments, and they have consistently shown they can't be trusted when it comes to overseeing gambling within their jurisdictions," he said.

He believes state and territory governments have become reliant on gambling taxes so it is not in their interest to prioritise consumer protection.

"State and territory governments, on one hand, want to maximise gambling revenue and on the other hand are supposed to ensure gambling houses act properly and that punters are protected. There's a conflict of interest that doesn't work," Mr Wilkie said.

Alastair Shields, the chairman of the Northern Territory Racing Commission, rejected the idea that the regulator had a conflict of interest.

He said he has had complaints about restrictions being placed on successful punters' accounts, but there was little he could do about it.

"Essentially, it's a contractual matter between a client and a sports bookmaker," Mr Shields said.

"That's a bit the same as if I go into a shop and the shopkeeper decides they don't want to serve me. They can decide not to do that."

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