*The author of this article has chosen to remain anonymous. All names have been changed to protect identity.*
I work in retention at a major sports betting company. Basically, in my job, I make people gamble again.
If you have an online account with us, I know far more about you than you might think.
Of course, I can see what bets you’ve placed.
I can also see when you have logged in, what markets you have looked at – and how long you’ve looked at them for.
I can find out when you have deposited money, and how much, and if you are lucky, how much you have withdrawn.
It’s all very easy, and quick, to find on our database.
My role is to get in touch with customers who have not had a bet in a while, and are of value to the business.
We determine a customer’s value to the business by their past history with us.
So if someone has spent $20,000 in the past year with us, but not had a bet in three months, then they are of tremendous value. A $20-a-year punter who hasn’t been sighted in six months … not so much.
We use various methods to get punters back on board – be it a phone call, an email or an SMS.
We’re like any other business. If someone signs up and participates with our brand, but then stop, we want them back.
I offer them free bets or deposit matches.
A free bet is an obligation-free bet. A potential withdrawal may have obligations (for example, you might have to turn over your winnings twice to get them).
A deposit match is if a punter deposits $500, we’ll also add $500 in their account. Again, their may be conditions on withdrawal and winnings.
By now, you might be wondering if, on occasion, I feel bad at work. I do.
But it’s a tough job market out there. And working in anything related to the gambling world pays very well.
Making the phone calls can be hard work.
Some people tell me they’re trying to stop gambling. The last thing they need is me on the other end of the phone.
I also get told to piss off a fair bit.
You develop a thick skin after a while but it’s still not nice. Others want us to take their name off our calling list.
But you can hear the brain ticking over with some of our customers.
And quite a lot of them actually enjoy getting a free bet or deposit match – probably more than you would think.
If a lapsed punter bets on races – and races only – then we might offer them a free bet on the Melbourne Cup or the Cox Plate.
The same goes for a punter who loves AFL exotics.
We wouldn’t offer them a free bet on cricket or soccer. Instead, it might be $20 on the first goal kicker for the Friday night match.
The amounts are also tailored.
Someone who bets $500 a week with us will get a bigger offer than a casual punter.
As with any job, we have key performance indicators.
I’m judged on how many people I can get back punting at what we call a regular rate.
It means your judgement on who gets free bets and other bonuses needs to be pretty good.
There’s a lot of what we call ‘free bet abusing’ that goes on with punters – and if you’ve given 300 out in a month and only 20 have started gambling regularly again, the KPI’s don’t look that good.
That’s where the database comes in handy, and why our offers are tailored.
A $10 free bet on the races, to someone who only bets on footy, is either likely to not be used, or used once on the races, and end there.
Occasionally, I won’t be able to offer a customer a free bet or deposit match because their account has been flagged.
This might be a customer who has lost tens of thousands of dollars in a short space of time or who have the tendencies of a problem gambler.
We also have several punters – many of a high-profile nature – who bet thousands of dollars each week with us but aren’t problem gamblers.
These customers are very important to the business.
They are the ones who bet $10,000 on a horse race at 2pm on a Wednesday – something that I don’t even blink an eyelid at any more. I’ve worked in the business for a while and you do get desensitised.
We do plenty to keep these punters sweet, be it corporate hospitality or regular bonuses.
Punters, as a rule, aren’t that loyal. But by looking after them, we’ve found that loyalty grows.
So where’s my loyalty, you might ask? Maybe I’ve grown tired of doing this.
I will say that I see a side of the business that protects those with addiction and problems. We target punters for fun and try to provide them with an enjoyable experience.
And we don’t force anyone to do anything. Ultimately, it is up to people to control themselves.
The Spring Racing Carnival is fast approaching and that’s a huge time of the year for us.
So, if you are called by a betting company over the next few weeks, try not to tell the person at the other end to piss off. It might be me.
Help for problem gamblers is available from the National Gambling Helpline by phoning 1800 858 858, or Financial Counselling Australia on 1800 007 007.