TAB to help Internet, phone gambling addicts

Tabcorp announced it will launch a self-exclusion service on Monday that allows gambling addicts to ban themselves from accessing their Internet or phone betting accounts.The service, called BetCare, is designed to catch the new generation of gamblers that are addicted to Tabcorp's Internet, telephone and self-service betting terminals.

Tabcorp announced it will launch a self-exclusion service on Monday that allows gambling addicts to ban themselves from accessing their Internet or phone betting accounts.

The service, called BetCare, is designed to catch the new generation of gamblers that are addicted to Tabcorp's Internet, telephone and self-service betting terminals. It will allow addicts to ban themselves from using their gambling accounts and provide free access to a counsellor from the Wesley Gambling Counselling Service.

Reverend Chester Carter, manager of the Wesley Gambling Counselling Service (WGCS), told ZDNet Australia  that most people contacting WGCS have an addiction to poker machines but the new service will provide support to anyone that wants help with their online and telephone gambling problem.

"Within Australia, the percentage of people that have problems due to [Internet, telephone and self-service terminals] is quite small -- but we weren't covering them. This contract with TAB will cover the shortfall of people [that develop a problem] and give them greater access to services through Tab outlets," said Reverend Carter.

Australia has strict laws against online casinos and even bans advertisements for gambling services. However, Tabcorp has been allowed to provide Internet and telephone-based services for sporting events.

Reverend Carter is concerned that the Internet-based services will generate the next generation of gambling addicts.

"I hope it is not going to be as big a problem as we have found with pokie machines but you never know. The way society is moving with high tech access, my worry is that it could become a problem with the younger generation, which is accessing the Internet on their mobile phones," said Reverend Carter.

Tabcorp's chief executive of wagering, Michael Piggott, said the company only encourages people to bet what they can afford to lose.

"We encourage people to have a punt on the races or to place a bet on their favourite sporting team or event, however people should be responsible and only bet what they can afford to lose... BetCare focuses on customer care and ensuring the small number of people with a gambling problem that ask for help are provided with appropriate support from the TAB and access to specialised help services," said Piggott.

BetCare is being launched in Victoria first and will be extended to NSW by the end of the year.