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Sportsbet Cancels 80k In Gambler's Debts

Australian sportsbook Sportsbet has reportedly agreed to write off A$80,000 in debt run up by a Melbourne man.

The Age newspaper in Australia reports the man who racked up the debt suffers from mental illness and was drawn to Sportsbet after seeing the company offering him $5,000 in free wagers. According to the report, the man was unable to resist, and ultimately opening credit accounts in the amounts of A$10,000, A$30,000 and A$40,000, which threw the man into deep debt.

Sportsbet then took the man to court, seeking to get back the A80,000 he owed them. Soon the man was in Federal Court and was told that the house he shared with his mother would have to be sold to settle the debt. However, the man's lawyer Nick Xenophon reached and agreement with Sportsbet this week that would see the man's debt erased and put his house back into his name.

Sportsbet did confirm that this was indeed the case, but refused to issue details. A spokesman for Sportsbet commented on the issue of offering free bets to players said, ''Occasionally we offer free bets to those wishing to bet with us and these are determined on a case-by-case basis."

Liberal MP Alan Tudge also got involved after he was contacted by the man and his mother about the case. He says he believes Sportsbet is exploiting a loophole that allows the company to extend credit to Australian customers because it is based in the Northern Territory. He has written the Northern Territories government seeking to have the laws changed.

Commenting on Sportsbet extending credit to players, Tudge said, ''Online gambling companies providing credit is particularly egregious because they take no risk when they issue the credit,"

Exexcutive Director of Licensing, Regulation, and Alcohol Strategy at the Northern Territory Justice Department Micheil Brody denies that there is a loophole and says bookmakers from all areas may extend credit. He also said the Racing Commission is reviewing the matter and seeing if there were any breaches of NT licensing regulations.

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