Players in Australia will soon be able to top up their accounts at convenience stores and service stations around the country, following a deal between retailers and card company Emerchants.
The card company said the top-up service will be offered in “independently owned petrol stations, convenience stores and news agents,” but not in Woolworths and 7-Eleven, which backed away from the deal in March, according to a Sydney Morning Herald report.
Some 1,600 retailers have already signed up to offer the service. Emerchants expects a total of 4,500 retailers will offer the service in the coming months.
So far, William Hill and Bet365 have signed up for the service, but other operators are expected to follow soon.
James Burroughs, spokesman for William Hill, told the news outlet: “William Hill customers can not only get instant access to their winnings but they can deposit directly into their accounts, making their experience even faster and easier.”
The service has drawn a lot of flak from groups like Financial Counselling Australia, which are concerned that it could be used to push direct lines of credit to punters. Lauren Levin, FCA’s director of policy and campaigns, claimed the service could be the gambling industry’s “Plan B” to circumvent the government’s plan to ban sports betting operators from providing credit to its players.
Emerchants, however, pointed out that the top-up service was designed to keep customers loyal to companies like William Hill.
“The betting is already going to happen anyway. All it’s really doing is making it more convenient for the customer,” said Tom Cregan, managing director of Emerchants, according to the report. “The benefit for William Hill is loyalty and attention. If [money is] re-bet, it’s re-bet with William Hill.”
The card company estimates that $40 of every $100 spent on the bookmaker’s prepaid cards goes back to the companies in the form of new bets.