Punters are as keen as ever to back the All Blacks at this World Cup, but there are concerns about how some potential bettors are being targeted, writes Warwick Rasmussen.
Cancelling the All Blacks final pool game at the Rugby World Cup was good news for one serious gambler who has $100,000 on New Zealand to win the tournament – and to do so unbeaten.
The match against Italy, scheduled for Saturday, was called off because of Super Typhoon Hagibis. The gambler put two $50,000 bets on with the TAB and is on track to more than double his money if the All Blacks win their next three matches.
It’s one of the more eye-watering bets that the TAB’s Mark Stafford has seen for this edition of the World Cup, but it’s by no means a certainty with plenty of threats to the All Blacks’ crown, from the likes of England and South Africa.
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Stafford said there was a lot of chat about potential winners, but not much about previous two-time World Cup holders Australia.
“No-one’s talking about them. To me, they’re the smartest team in the world, they’re just battling for depth.”
Stafford said New Zealand’s own “unbelievable depth” made them a rightful favourite, but England loomed as the great improvers and were a proven “tournament team” built to win three consecutive knockout matches.
He felt Ireland and Wales could get up for big, one-off matches, but the attrition of the tournament, along with possible suspensions, could prove too much for them to claim their maiden title, despite being ranked among the top teams in the world.
The Rugby World Cup is a marquee event for the TAB and this year’s edition is on track to be as big for revenue as the 2011 cup that was held in New Zealand. A lot of that was down to the favourable time zones, with the matches in Japan kicking off in the evening or night time in New Zealand.
Stafford said nothing compared to the Melbourne Cup as a single-day event when it came to gamblers putting their money down, but this World Cup is on track to be one of the biggest events in the TAB’s history of sports betting.
That was partly down to “much better promotions” around lopsided games, which were historically difficult to attract gamblers. Those promotions included the “to score a try bet” where a punter bets $30 or more for a player to score a try. If that player lands a try the gambler gets the payout, plus a $5 bonus bet for every other try scored in that match.
While that made it more enticing to place a bet, Stafford didn’t think it crossed the line as far as responsibly promoting gambling.
Another such promotion offered online customers $30 in their accounts from the TAB if the customer added $50 of their own money.
Stafford said that was akin to “buying a barbecue and getting some free steak knives”.
But Andrée Froude, from the Problem Gambling Foundation, is no fan of such TAB promotions, some of which she called “inducements” that can be tempting to young and vulnerable people.
“It can exacerbate problem gambling, it targets people too. We run the risk of having a whole new demographic of problem gamblers.”
Froude said the normalisation of gambling was a long-standing problem, and that New Zealand appeared to be following a similar path to Australia where a gambling culture was “absolutely entrenched”.
“Pokies are by far the most harmful [form of gambling], but online gambling is growing exponentially.”
Froude believed there needed to be tighter restrictions around gambling promotion and advertising.
She said signs of problem gambling emerging are often hidden. “It can start out with people being a bit secretive, and anxious.” The Problem Gambling Foundation offered free counselling for those who need it.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has this year thoroughly reviewed the rules around gambling advertising, and the Gambling Advertising Code comes into effect from November 4.
Authority chief executive Hilary Souter said gambling advertising had to show a high standard of social responsibility, and it was vital any ad was aimed at the right people.
“It’s about making sure you talk to the right audience. We talk about how you set the scene around the chances of winning, and whether there are unrealistic chances of winning.”
The definition of advertisement was a broad one as far as the ASA was concerned, and included “any message, the content of which is controlled directly or indirectly by the advertiser, expressed in any language and communicated in any medium with the intent to influence the choice, opinion or behaviour of those to whom it is addressed”, according to the code.
The TAB has been the subject of three official ASA complaints this year, two of which did not proceed, and one that was not upheld.
One of the complaints was against an ad that said: “Join the TAB, deposit $10 and get a $20 bonus bet. TAB – Now you’re in the game.”
The complainant, P Curtis, was concerned the promotion had “no warnings provided of the dangers towards people with gambling addictions also making it easy to gamble from your home computer and smart phone. There should be warning signs written all over this.”
The ASA did not have grounds to proceed with the complaint because it was limited to the content and placement of advertisements, and pointed out that the advertiser was promoting a legal product at an age appropriate time.
Sports gambling was legalised in New Zealand in 1996, shortly after rugby turned professional, and Stafford said the overall nature of gamblers had changed.
Initially, emotions ruled and Kiwi sports bettors were led by their heart and “form didn’t matter”, said Stafford. But over time that changed and people became more astute about where they put their money.
“I would sum New Zealand [sports gamblers] up as very educated now.” There weren’t nearly as many “heart” bets now, as form and statistics better informed potential punters.
One of the more savvy bets placed so far was $500 on a head-to-head bet for absolute outsiders Uruguay to beat Fiji. The South Americans did just that, and at 16/1 odds the punter took home a tidy $8000.
WHERE TO GET HELP
Problem Gambling Foundation – 0800 664 262
Gambling Helpline – 0800 654 655 or text 8006.
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Publish date : 2019-10-12 16:00:00