Have you ever wondered if there are greater risks associated with “micro betting” than with traditional forms of gambling?

For example, if someone is making relatively small wagers on each serve in a tennis game, as opposed to simply betting on the game itself, are they setting themselves up for a loss in the long term? Does micro betting push people down a dangerous road where betting patterns unravel into complete and total abject chaos?

Last year, the Australian government released a draft review of the 2001 Interactive Gambling Act, which received attention worldwide for its distillation of over a decade of data relating to the specifics of online gambling worldwide. One of the recommendations (#25) from the report deals specifically with the issue of micro betting, specifically stating that this type of gambling can pose a threat:

Because of the greater harm associated with ‘micro-betting’ from a problem gambling perspective, ‘micro-betting’ should be prohibited irrespective of the electronic medium (that is, telephone, internet, etc.) by which the bets are placed.

The question becomes the following: where, exactly, are these associated harms? The report makes the assertion that this form of betting is a problem, but the report is less forthcoming with the actual reasons why.

A Micro Analysis of Micro Betting

“If you are looking at something that’s like ball-by-ball betting on outcomes that are popping up within a game, this is a form of gambling where gamblers could chase their losses, could spend more than they intended, and it really could be an excessive form of gambling.” Sally Gainsbury, a Financial Times reporter based in London, sides with the report believing #25 to be entirely on point in its assessment. She expressed her thoughts shortly after the release of the report with an interview on ABC NewsAustralia

However, it would appear that if the self-professed “independent gambling researcher” did, in fact, read the report, she did not read it very well.

Her own comments are directly challenged a little later on in the report—in the same section, even. It goes on to read the following: 

According to a report conducted by the UK Gambling Commission in 2009, there is no evidence that online in-play betting (including ‘micro-betting’ after an event has commenced) poses a “specific, identifiable risk to problem gambling as opposed to other forms of betting or online gambling.

In reality, the draft struggles to ground the criticisms of micro betting to any study or professional body outside of the report itself.

Micro or Macro: It’s All Relative

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The reality is that micro betting is no more or less detrimental for the majority of those people partaking in online gaming, problem gambler or otherwise.

Whether or not you are betting a lot or a little, the odds are not changing.

Critics of online gambling are also reminded by commentators such as Mark at SocialLiberalEconomicRational.com (who claims he used to run an online gambling business that accepted micro bets) that people who utilize the “micro” approach of betting less more often have historically been shown to simply win (or lose) less money, more often, with the long term outcomes remaining about the same.

Mark makes another point: when you look at the speed in which bets can be made around the world, there really is no objective standard for what constitutes ‘quick’ betting. It is entirely possible to place a bet for a horse race every couple of minutes, which is about the same frequency as the aforementioned micro wagers on individual tennis serves.

In other words, it is all relative.

The difference really seems come down to semantics. Depending on who you talk to, and how much money they have, what could be considered “micro,” or otherwise small and fast betting for one person could very well turn out to be too little and too slow for the more seasoned professional who is used to making a decision every 30 seconds.

Ultimately, it’s not the size or frequency of the bet that makes the winner or the loser. As always in gambling, it’s all about the decisions that you make.

[box=”info”]About the author: Simon Zedd is a writer and frequent editorial voice in the marketing community. His guest blog contributions span the gamut from helpful to hilarious. Currently, he can be found eating government cheese typing away from his coffee shop office in Vancouver, Canada. [/box]