Online sportsbetting firms in Australia are continuing to offer in-play markets via their sites. The service comes despite a recent strengthening of a ban Down Under in online “in-running” wagers.
While major overseas firms like Ladbrokes have pulled back so-called ‘Click to Call’ services, others continue to flout the current Interactive Gambling Act. Sportsbet.com.au, owned by Irish bookie, PaddyPower, is offering its customers the ‘Bet Live’ service, which allows players to place bets using their mobile phone “without speaking to a customer service agent”.
While live betting is allowed over the phone, making bets online is not. Betting firms get round the rules by utilising ‘Voice Over IP’ (VOIP) software which allows “phone” bets to made automatically by the mobile phone. It’s a quicker way for Aussie gamblers to place their bets.
Government Hopeful Of In-Play Resolution
In April, the federal government’s long-awaited review into the outdated IGA (Interactive Gambling Act) was presented to ministers. The majority of recommendations were accepted in principal, including a clampdown on gambling credit for online customers and a strengthening of the ban in in-play bets.
Human Services minister, Alan Tudge, sent out letters to the major online sportsbetting sites in the hope that they would cease offering in-running markets available online. It seems that some operators are sticking to their guns.
In a letter leaked to Fairfax Media, Mr. Tudge said that legislation on in-play betting “will be introduced as quickly as possible to make the law unambiguous to all providers.”
“The government considers that Australian online betting agencies offering “click-to-call” type in-play wagering services on websites and mobile phone applications are breaching the provisions and intent of Interactive Gambling Act 2001.”
While the introduction of specific anti-in play laws could be a way off, operators are continuing to offer the service.
In-Play Ban A Win For Aussie Monopolies
The strengthening of the in-play ban is also great news for the duopoly of Tatts Group and Tabcorp.
The betting giants, who operate outlets in pubs and clubs as well as online betting sites licensed in Australia, have long complained that overseas gambling firms have an unfair advantage over homegrown betting companies. The Aussie racing industry has also complained that business to offshore sites hits their bottom line.
However, not everyone is in favour of a ban. Cricket Australia is one of the bodies Down Under which wants in-play betting legalised. A more open betting market, they argue, would help fight against corruption and match-fixing and make the sport more transparent.
The AFL, which is fighting its own battles against gambling among some of its players, is also in favour of lifting the ban.
It remains to be seen what the ACMA (Australian Communication and Media Authority) do about companies that continue to offer in-play services. Last October, it reported William Hill Australia to the Federal Police over its Click-to-Call betting app. However, after deciding that there was no likelihood of a prosecution, the AFP dropped the investigation.
Despite the win for online betting sites, some firms like Ladbrokes dropped its own ‘Quickbet’ in-play service altogether. If a ban on in-play is strengthened (more likely than not after the election), and more cash flows offshore, Australian betting sites will have even more reason to cry foul than ever.