Graeme Joyes is the station manager at Coast Access Radio and as part of his participation in the show and out of personal interest he conducted some interesting research on the risks of online gambling. His findings were fascinating, so we asked Graeme to share with us what he discovered when he entered the world of online gambling.
This survey was conducted to ascertain the risks of online gambling under two broad categories. Firstly, the risk to the player and secondly, the risk to their technology. This survey was conducted from my office computer at Coast Access Radio with the knowledge and approval of the Coast Access Radio Trust. Initially I surveyed several dozen sites but realised that was far too big for the time allocated, so I focused on ten sites only, all with .nz addresses. I conducted this from a computer protected by a dual firewall and Bitdefender Anti-virus. This was a fairly superficial survey, of only ten sites, looking at only five parameters.
I visited ten sites, all who appeared in a Google search with addresses that said they were NZ sites. Their description both declared them to be NZ sites and the URL address identified them as .nz sites. I used three different Google searches, ‘Gambling for Cash,’ ‘Poker,’ and ‘Poker for Cash.’
From a technological perspective I discovered three interesting points worth mentioning.
The first was safety. Six of the sites were considered ‘safe’, two sites registered ‘unsafe’, and one site immediately downloaded a virus onto my computer. One of the sites caused an immediate alert, and Bitdefender locked me out of the site, declaring it to be dangerous.
Secondly, the websites web tracking and their ability to keep tabs on my activity and how I used their website. All of the sites downloaded trackers, some of which are innocent and acceptable, e.g. Facebook and Google Analytics. One of the websites downloaded a tracker which caused Bitdefender to warn me it was copying and sending my Facebook contacts list.
And finally the location of the websites that claimed to be .nz sites. While all the sites had an initial URL address of being a gaming site or casino in NZ, analysis of their sites by a host inquiry programme revealed they were all hosted overseas, the NZ site address was only a mirror. The locations were: Canada, New Jersey USA, Isle of Man, and Moldova. Pinging these sites showed me they had mirror sites all around the world, many in jurisdictions of concern.
In conclusion, none of these sites were what they claimed to be, as none of them were actually New Zealand based. They ranged from sites that were safe to visit, to one so dangerous my antivirus locked it out. All loaded tracking software, one planted a virus, and one stole my Facebook data.
Only one site had easily found and readable help on gambling safety and problem gambling. It had good quality, easy to read information, with links to the Gambling Helpline, the Problem Gambling Foundation and the Department of Internal Affairs.
On the other nine websites the information for getting help was obscure and difficult to find, or simply non-existent.
I found putting money in was really easy. They all offered Visa, MasterCard or PayPal options.
But I found that getting my money back was more difficult. Information on ‘how to get your money back’ wasn’t as easily available and when analysed the terms and conditions summed it up in two statements; 1: Reserves the right to delay payment and 2: Reasonable processing charges. More research is required on this aspect.
In conclusion, only one site had easily obtained information on how to get help if you’re worried about your gambling, and all the websites had easy payment methods, however; none of the websites had easy refund methods and there was significant fine print.
Recently, online gambling has received some attention in the media because overseas online gambling websites have found a way to advertise on New Zealand television. Advertising online gambling in New Zealand is strictly regulated under the Gambling Act 2003, but these overseas online gambling sites have found a loophole, meaning websites like Jackpot City and Spin Palace have found their way onto New Zealand television. Interested in reading more? Click here.
To listen to Andrew Brown and Graeme Joyes latest podcast on Coast Access Radio, Let’s talk about gambling, click here.
Graeme Joyes is the station manager at Coast Access Radio 107.4FM.
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