Betting online has grown consistently since the first Australian bookmaker started using the Internet to give punters another option for getting a punt on. Depending on whose story you believe, that first bookmaker showed up online in about 1996.
The technology has grown enormously in the past twenty years, even though betting online still receives plenty of competition from the older, traditional channels of telephone, betting shops and on-course betting. The first big boost for betting online was the wider availability of high-speed Internet service. Along with being faster, the connection was far more stable and enabled people to stay continuously connected, a convenience that promoted more Internet usage. A second tremendous boost was the rapid and widespread adoption of mobile devices such as tablets and phone beginning in 2007 that offered the convenience of conducting betting online anytime a few spare moments became available.
Regardless of the specific electronic device utilised, betting online, just as every innovation humankind has ever devised, has benefits and risks attached to it. Sociologists used to use the term cultural lag to describe the time period between when new ground breaking developments became available and when most of the unanticipated negative consequences became manageable.
Notice that we describe the consequences as manageable and not completely vanquished. When early humans discovered the benefits of fire for light, warmth, safety and cooking, they started humans on the path to dominating the environment as no species had ever done before. Yet, even today, fire can create dangerous risks and severe consequences when not managed correctly. Other examples: Automobiles revolutionised travel, but people are still being hurt and killed in accidents, or, the Internet totally changed communication and the way business is conducted, but hurt some individuals who could not properly use the new communication medium or were displaced from old-style businesses that could not compete and went by the wayside. Additional examples abound.
Betting online is no different. There are positives and negatives associated with the activity and we propose here to have a look at some of these for the purpose of information. One of the risks betting online poses is that of the high level of convenience creating the potential for addictive behavior. Mobile phones seem to offer that all on their own, as anyone who has seen a driver blithely checking text messages while driving or had a face-to-face conversation disrupted by their associate’s inability to resist the Pavolovian ding of an incoming message offering the latest musings of a tweeter or picture of someone’s lunch fully realizes. This affords us the opportunity to look at some of the measures betting online providers have taken to create the appearance of doing their part to minimise problem gambling. Since mobile software applications currently attract so much attention, we will look at the apps offered by the various bookmakers
By eliminating trips to the retail outlets to submit wagers, a substantial savings in time resulted. This efficiency even offers savings of time compared to that required to place the same bet or bets on the phone. Punters benefit by having more time for other tasks, tasks that hopefully are of a productive nature. Bookmakers benefit from the prospect that since entering a punt takes less time, punters will make more of them.
Without the need to use some form of transportation to get to a location where wagers can be placed, punters will over the course of time spent betting online save some of the potential costs of transportation. The benefit is more money for punting. Bookmakers’ cost savings result from a reduction in the number of employees needed to run their operations. A telephone or face-to-face wager requires a one-on-one interaction between a punter and an employee. Betting online makes it possible for fewer employees to administer the punts of hundreds of punters. This benefits the bookmakers by reducing their costs. In the competitive environment of betting online, more markets and better odds are the result. Another benefit punters experience is lower margins, making commissions less of a drag on winning punts.
Access to Up-to-the-Minute Wagering Information
In the final hours and minutes preceding the jump of any wagering event, odds typically fluctuate for many markets. It takes no longer than the time it takes to refresh a webpage on any device to track this fluctuation and possibly use it in the decision making process.
This near-instantaneous updating of odds information is applicable to other important wagering information, such as last minute scratchings of racers or players, recent form, track or ground conditions and historical data. All this information and more is reflected in odds fluctuations, but is still important for offering nuances valuable in dealing with uncertainty. The primary benefit to the punter is the ability to make better decisions. Bookmakers benefit by marketing a high level of service in the form of constant information.
Bonuses and Rewards Associated with Betting Online
While it may sometimes seem as though a university law degree is required to navigate the bonus and reward offers betting online offers, just a little attention to the terms and conditions, taken in small doses over time, will permit anyone with the ability to determine the value of a punt to take best advantage of all the incentives online betting providers make available.
In Play Betting Online
Of all the changes betting online has generated, in play betting is an exceptional example of how technology has changed the game. Being able to place wagers after a sporting event of any kind has started affords an opportunity to adjust wagering positions based on how an event is actually unfolding. Punters benefit from having a chance to adjust their positions as a hedging strategy or as a way to lock in a profit. The speed of betting online benefits bookmakers by allowing them to accept wagers that were not possible in the days when betting closed prior to an event.
We now switch to a look at some of the hazards betting online creates.
Easy Access Creates Problems for Impulsive Punters
Not being able to view what is going on from an objective perspective makes online betting pose risks common to casinos or pokies. The pace of wagering can accelerate beyond the ability to pause and reflect on what is happening. People with poor impulse control can find betting online can arouse a fever state where they make poor wagering decisions without enough time to consider the consequences. Financial and personal ruin is a truly viable outcome.
Underage Betting Online
Although the industry takes measures to prevent people too young to appreciate the risks, the lack of physical contact with customers that betting online facilitates is a very real issue. Without stringent policies to prevent underage clients, young people without fully developed impulse control could easily find their futures in jeopardy when they amass large gambling debts for which they lack the responsibility to accept.
Unscrupulous Online Betting Operators
The rate at which change takes place in the world of technology presents a real risk of abusive business practices. This is not the case for the major online bookmakers who realise that a soiled reputation cannot be easily restored, but there is no lack of evidence that betting online is rife for abuse as the technology outpaces the regulatory agencies abilities to deal with it.
A recent story in the Sydney Morning Herald describes how online bookmakers to restrict the punting of anyone whom they deem unprofitably successful. According to SMH, a leaked internal document from TABCORP titled Fixed Odds Liability advised betting shops to avoid dealing with “individual customers who are not commercially viable,” a thinly veiled phrase for winners, to focus more attention on “genuine customers,” aka “losers.”
Failure to comply with corporate guidelines in this regard carried the threat to TABCORP outlets of having their operations “managed” directly by TABCORP, as was the case at the time of the SMH report for 100 of the 2600 TAB outlets.
Credible evidence has emerged that the British multinationals that now control the bulk of betting online have undertaken measures to curtail the winners of punters, even those who bet in small amounts.
By far, the largest issue surrounding online betting is the psychological one that finds some punters unable to control their wagering. Part public relations strategy and part response to regulators that attempt to keep this issue to a minimum, online betting operators offer pages on their websites offering assistance dealing with this issue.
Visit any online betting website, and chances are more than good that a link to information and assistance dealing with the issue of responsible gambling will not be too difficult to find. Not very easy either, but it is there for anyone who takes the time to disregard the splashy banners and seriously dig into the significant part.
Responsible online betting operators offer various means for anyone who suspects that gambling is out of control to address the issue. It is not uncommon to see telephone numbers, email address and chat support dedicated to helping people who realise that their punting has escalated beyond their personal control. Other common links found for this support on online betting websites include advice on breaking free from online wagering, self-assessment tests and other resources, in multiple languages, for those who have come to the conclusion that their wagering behavior has become obsessive.
While this is all well and good, it almost seems as though this information should be a requirement prior to any wagering, as it seems as though an awareness of the potential harm would be sobering and beneficial.
Online Betting Mobile Applications
Subjectivity is unavoidable when discussing this topic. What objectivity we can offer is this: There do not seem to be any mobile online betting applications that will fail to facilitate wagering. All the major online betting operators have had around 15 years to perfect their online products. When the first smart phone showed up in 2007, they had had at least seven years to work out their Internet offerings. From there, it was simply a matter of adapting their operations to the smaller screens of mobile devices. They also had access to applications developers who had vast experience in other Internet realms who could easily apply their expertise to the development of mobile online betting apps.
Anyone who hopes to choose a mobile application based on any reviews they choose to read should adhere to one major caveat: The ranking of online betting applications in all probability is the result of whoever is being paid to supply the reviews.
None of the online betting applications is likely to cause a phone to explode, change a bet from short odds on Hawthorn to a hope and a prayer of the Saints beating the Hawks. Issues with malfunctioning apps are almost always the fault of the person using the app.
It all comes down to a matter of personal preference. Like their websites designed for desk and laptop PCs, online betting suppliers’ mobile offerings feature certain commonalities of function present in all mobile applications. This is simply a consequence of the desire on the part of online betting app makers to entice punters to favour their app over that of other bookmakers. Given the ease with which these apps can be downloaded, installed and utilised, the typical phone or tablet will have no trouble dealing with multiple apps. Users need simply take the time to learn which app makes them the most comfortable, and then use any others they choose to store on their devices to shop for the best wagering opportunities.
Finally, the rate at which online betting operations update their mobile apps is best described as ferocious. Even a really good review that has gone to great lengths to examine apps objectively is going to occupy the realm of ancient history in the span of six months or less.
Betting online will continue to occupy a prominent space in the world of wagering.
Betting online will continue its breakneck pace of innovation.
Compared to other wagering channels, betting online will hold its place as a viable option for punters, but in all probability will not supplant any of those other channels.
Betting online is here to stay.
We hope that anyone who encounters this information will find it useful to some extent. Betting online has had a profound influence on the betting landscape to an extent similar to that which telephone betting presented, or the advent of totalisors prior. What the next big development may be is uncertain, but the certainty that there will be changes of one kind or another is an inescapable certainty.