A problem gambler who lost thousands of dollars betting on rugby league has ridiculed suggestions by rugby league boss Peter V'landys that punters don't bet on games to win money. Before jetting out for America where he will attempt to tap into the lucrative US betting market by opening the 2024 NRL season with a double header in Las Vegas, V'Landys declared money is not the chief motivator for punters placing bets.
"Look, it's entertainment. You don't gamble to win money," he told Channel 9. "You don't do it to become rich. You do it to entertain yourself.
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"(It's) just like you go to a restaurant and you buy a meal - that's entertainment. As long as you're responsible with what you're spending on that entertainment, it's no different than anything else.
"I'm encouraging entertainment. If you treat gambling as entertainment and you budget yourself to (spend) so much on that entertainment, there's no problem with it."
Hugh (surname withheld), from Sydney, estimates he's lost "tens of thousands of dollars" on sports betting over the years. He strongly dismissed V'landys' claim punting can be categorised as entertainment.
"He can’t be serious. I'm yet to meet a punter who doesn’t want to win money," Hugh told Yahoo Sport Australia. "That's the only reason I bet and I'm sure it's the only reason anyone bets. Why else would you do it?
"The entertainment analogy is ridiculous. If I pay for a restaurant meal, I am guaranteed that meal. If I pay to go to a movie, I get to see a movie.
"If I place a bet and I lose, what entertainment have I derived from it? I'm actually pretty filthy at having done my dough.
"The game is less enjoyable to watch when the team you backed is losing as it becomes more about not doing your dough rather than supporting a team as a fan."
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Carol Bennett, CEO of Alliance for Gambling Reform, labelled V'landys' comments as being "out of touch".
She said: "Individuals, families, workplaces and communities across Australia are bearing the brunt of gambling companies whose business model is driven by exploiting people losing money, while they pretend they are only an entertainment business.
"It is a convenient myth that there are just a few people who fail to set limits, and everyone else enjoys a small punt.
"Gambling companies make their money from people who lose, and the more people lose, the more they are targeted by gambling industry. The sporting codes are out of touch if they think they have no responsibility to their fans."
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