William Hill’s Gambling Credit Offer to Customers Draws Negative Reactions
In an aggressive move to promote the rebranding of Sportingbet, Tom Waterhouse and Centrebet sportsbooks into the William Hill Australia brand, the latter extended offers of up to AU$1,000 in gambling credits to online punters.
Otherwise known in the local Australian gambling industry as deferred settlement facilities, the availability of the credit was communicated to players via phone calls, in conjunction with notification messages pertaining to the re-branding move. Punters availing the gambling credit are allowed to defer payment within a week’s time. However, the aggressive marketing strategy had drawn the attention not only of avid Aussie punters but of gambling critics as well.
Dr. Charles Livingstone, a Senior Lecturer at the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine in Monash University, commented that gambling credit is potentially harmful for people dealing with gambling problems. He went as far as stating that the aggressive marketing strategy is hardly an initiative but actually, an act of cruelty for those afflicted with problem gambling behavior.
Yet within the Australian gambling industry, this has been an ordinary approach for promoting betting brands. After all, the William Hill Australia division, which includes the Centrebet and Tom Waterhouse acquisitions, are all under the leadership of newly appointed CEO Tom Waterhouse. It is a well known fact that prior to William Hill’s acquisition of the Tom Waterhouse dotcom betting website, Mr. Waterhouse made headlines when his aggressive and persistent marketing approach became a national issue.
Since assuming office as the new CEO of the William Hill Australia division last July 2014, Mr. Waterhouse started focusing on the migration of the three Australian betting agencies to the William Hill betting platform. In line with the transfer, he and the local leadership team at William Hill Australia have been reassessing the marketing strategies they will launch in promoting the re-branding initiatives.
In some Australian territories, including the NSW, gambling on credit is not allowed if the facility is offered as a way for inducing customers to engage in gambling activities or even in opening a gambling account. The Liquor, Gaming and Racing Office has stated that William Hill has not violated such restriction. However, the government office added that legal restrictions might apply for similar marketing campaigns if carried out online.
Even the Australian Wagering Council (AWC) contends that the approach is not a novel way of drawing additional customers, albeit more popular among illegal bookmakers, remote gambling operators and loan sharks. The AWC explained that “deferred settlement facility” is not a typical commercial credit, but merely offered as an opportunity to delay the settlement of a customer’s account.
Accordingly, there is a code observed by the industry’s betting brands, as it serves as a self-regulating mechanism to help bookmakers, including operators of online betting websites, stay within the legal boundaries.
Last February, Sportingbet shed off its 80-year old brand name and subsequently become William Hill. The Centrebet renaming will follow later this year, while the Tom Waterhouse dotcom site will take on the William Hill brand name in 2016.