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In a country where betting is a national obsession and gambling has become one of our top social issues, a local digital media company has launched an interactive betting service allowing punters to bet using their Foxtel set top box.

Sydney Media company Two Way Limited has launched Sky Racing ACTIVE, a wagering service created by Two Way and its partners, Tabcorp and FOXTEL. The move is set to cause a storm with church groups and activists trying to cut back on betting in Australia.

According to the company, the service will provide detailed information for all thoroughbred, harness and greyhound race meetings on which Tabcorp is conducting wagering each day. The information will also provide includes track conditions, detailed form guides, scratchings, approximate dividends, results, and final dividends- all via their subscription television services.

The company says that Sky Racing ACTIVE includes all necessary and appropriate consumer safeguards. Betting through the service is available only to TAB account holders in Victoria, who must satisfy identification requirements. Further, subscribers can use a PIN code to block access to the Sky Racing channel. This is in addition to the 4 digit PIN that is required to access a TAB account. The service also includes extensive responsible gambling messages on screen.

 

Accordingly, Sky Racing ACTIVE says it will offer additional consumer safeguards to current internet and telephone wagering services.

However Australia also holds the world record in gambling: More than 80 per cent of its adult population gambles, the highest rate in the world. In fact some figures put the amounts wagered in this country in the vicinity of $20 billion per year. This move follows the launch recently of online betting exchange Betfair, which also caused concern amongst a number of social and community groups.

One recent study, published in October last year, suggested that on average, Australians are spending more money on gambling ($A17.52 each week) than they do on alcohol ($A10.99) and petrol ($A15.27), and almost as much as they do on clothes ($A18.67).  And it is now estimated that more than 2 per cent of the population have a significant gambling problem.

 

However Chief Executive Officer of Two Way, Ben Reichel, is circumspect and said: “I don’t think this service will lead to more gambling problems.
Most problem gambling is associated with poker machines whereas our service exploits the available Foxtel technology and is only available to pay TV subscribers via a PIN and after extensive identification searches as well as coming with anti-gambling messages on the screen as well.”

 

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