Online Gambling Sites Safeguard Players More Then Land Casinos

In a federal enquiry this week to an Aussie committee, Sportsbet Chief Exec Cormac Barry spoke about the advantages online gambling operators offering better protection than brick and mortar casinos for problem gamblers.

Barry addressed the Interactive Gambling and Broadcasting Amendment Bill 2011 claiming software programs available at sites reduce problem gamblers from getting out of control and offer consultations for those who need it.

'There are occasions where people will try and open a second or third account to try and get more money on — customers have limits on how much they can bet on each selection — so we run real-time matching software that will pick out common characteristics with similar accounts and that will flag an alert to our fraud team,' he said.

'The same would apply with people who have self-excluded — if they try to open a new account with the same email address or phone number or used a different address, the software would pick it up and the account would be suspended by the fraud team.

'The efforts that have been made by the online gambling industry are considerably more sophisticated than other areas of the industry.'

The committee questioned regulations that took 90 days for customers to be verified. Although Barry agreed there was room for improvement he was quick to point out 'You can still play, but you cannot benefit from that activity: You cannot withdraw money ... you can still lose money'.

He cautioned that a proposal requiring gamblers to provide full 100 point identification before opening an online account would be too difficult for the gambling industry to abide by such terms.

'A barrier of that level would be very onerous and would only serve to drive customers to offshore sites that do not have that level of regulation,' he said.

'The key thing when we are looking at regulation is to strike a balance and allow the business to operate and have processes that protect the customer — whether they are minors or responsible gamblers.'

Barry was not opposed to a program where licensed Australian gambling operators made annual contributions to gambling research and counseling or to national register of problem gamblers.

He noted that there was no evidence in increased problem gamblers in Australia since the 2001 passage of Internet gambling. 'Nor is the instance of problem gambling higher among online gamblers in comparison to those that gamble with land-based retail outlets.'

Out of the 700,000 Sportsbet customers, with 95 percent Australian, 900 used the self exclusion service and 1,600 set deposit limits in the last financial year.

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