Telephone betting is no recent development when it comes to the gambling industry.
For years people have had accounts with sports bookmakers, dialling up a dedicated team to stake money on an upcoming event for which they believe they have a winning selection.
Less known is that, in some parts of the world, phone betting is also a possible option for those wanting to gamble on casino games.
Proxy betting, as it is generally known within the industry, is most prevalent in south-east Asia. The Philippines is now one of its leading exponents following decisions to make it illegal in the gambling mecca of Macau in the past year.
The way that proxy betting works is that the person gambling from a remote location will have someone they trust inside a casino on their behalf – the proxy.
Over a mobile phone, the proxy is tasked with relaying all of the needed information from a live casino game to the gambler and then carrying out any instruction passed on.
There are some obvious concerns to betting money in this way, primarily in terms of the trust placed on the proxy. This ranges from the accuracy of the information changing hands over the phone to getting any winnings transferred over if a gambling session ends in profit.
However, there are plenty of positives too. Here are a few reasons why a player may opt to call in a proxy to bet on their behalf and why allowing proxy players can be advantageous for a casino.
It may come as no great shock that it is the high rollers which typically take advantage of proxy betting opportunities.
Through staying private and playing from a distance, a player can bet big while disclosing minimal amounts of information about themselves.
If turning up and playing live, a player’s face can become recognised and recorded, while more background checks will be carried out on their finances.
Such checks are nigh on impossible for a VIP deciding to bet through a proxy, making it much more of a risk for a casino. They will not truly know their customers, their backgrounds or whether any money being gambled is legitimate or not.
There are obvious dangers of money laundering offences being committed and a casino will find it tough to police this if failing to carry out normal due diligence on players.
The way things tend to work is that a VIP joins forces with a junket operator, who offers credit to the player and sources the proxy to visit a casino.
Whether it’s a player unable to get a visa into another country, wanting to play in a more distant casino offering favourable game conditions or just fancying a few hands midway through doing something else such as commuting between work meetings, there is no denying proxy betting is convenient.
Players can sit in their most comfortable armchairs, put their feet up or even lounge around in their underpants if they wish and still enjoy a game in the same manner as those who had to travel 20 minutes in diabolical weather to sit at the tables.
The decision of some casinos to allow streaming services so players can watch developments first hand only heightens any appeal further.
Some casinos offering proxy betting will have video cameras on the ceilings of particular rooms to broadcast the action.
Such privileges do come at a cost to the VIPs though. The constant back and forth between proxy and player wouldn’t take long to frustrate or become a nuisance to ordinary players and so private tables are necessary.
To get one, a VIP will need to guarantee betting a certain amount in a session and this tends to be significant six-figure sums.
There have been suggestions that proxy betting is responsible for as much as 85% of the action within VIP rooms at some gambling establishments. Therefore, it is easy to see why some casinos are keen to allow action of this nature.
With gambling illegal in China, outside of the regions of Hong Kong and Macau, big spenders from the country are understandably among the chief utilisers of proxy betting and there are plenty with deep pockets.
Figures released by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp last year showed that the nation’s total casino gaming revenue had grown by 30% in the second quarter of 2016, compared to the first, with proxy betting considered to be at the forefront within the growth in VIP.
Proxy betting does present a bit of a catch 22 for casinos given the risks of not being able to fully risk assess their customers, but the potential for large rewards and substantial profits if recruiting a high number of new VIPs to their establishments.