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The CEO of Flutter Entertainment-owned Sportsbet was involved in a heated exchange over the blocking of successful gamblers from betting sites this week. 

During a parliamentary inquiry into online gambling, House of Representatives committee chair Peta Murphy said she knew someone personally whose betting access had been restricted when winning while using bonus offers.

Sportsbet CEO Barni Evans said customers are blocked in a number of scenarios, including if they are betting on behalf of other individuals, or if they are in a cooling off period between setting deposit limits.

However, Evans also said the company intervenes when customers appear “to be using privileged information”, and if their behaviour is distorting the market and affecting the experience of other customers.

Peta Murphy:“We don’t understand why it’s difficult to say yes or no to this question.”

“What’s privileged about being mathematically gifted enough to use arbitrage to use promotions and inducements in a way that means you can’t lose?” Murphy asked.

“We’re not opposed to mathematically gifted customers,” Evans reiterated.

He said they are simply looking after the majority of their customers when one customer is using information that might not be accessible to the rest of the market, for example because the customer is a trainer betting on horse racing.

Response interpreted as a “yes”

Murphy further pressed Evans for a straightforward answer: “I’m not asking you about a version of insider trading. I’m asking whether Sportsbet stops people from betting if they’re winning because they’re able to use the promotions and inducements in a way, which means that they can’t lose.”

Evans repeated a similar response, which left Murphy puzzled: “We don’t understand why it’s difficult to say yes or no to this question,” she said.

Ultimately, Murphy accepted Evans’s response as a “yes, you stop people who are consistently winning from betting “.

“That’s your prerogative,” Evans replied.

Sportsbet holds a 48% market share and is the Australian market leader.

Australia’s gambling review

The committee is considering the effectiveness of Australia’s current gambling regulations and is expected to deliver its recommendations by the middle of the year.

Gambling in Australia is regulated at both state and federal levels.

Each of the eight mainland states and territories have their own gambling regulatory framework, and there is no single overarching statute or authority.

Tabcorp CEO Adam Rytenskild has recently criticised this state-based model and advocated for a national framework.

Elsewhere, DraftKings CEO Jason Robins also spoke about his company’s approach to bonus hunters in the US market.

Robins said that his firm is using data to identify “sharp bettors that we need to limit or bonus hunters that aren’t going to create real long-term value and just want to hop around and take bonuses”.

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