Monday 15. August, 2016

Northern Territory Issues Second Ultimatum to Online Bookies

Last Wednesday, the Northern Territory Racing Commission (NTRC) issued a second warning and ultimatum to online gambling operators licensed in Australia to stop offering in-play sports betting services to their customers. The operators have been given four weeks to cease the service.

In June, the NTRC informed its licensees that it had until July 8 to cease offering the service; however following an outcry from bookmakers, the deadline was pushed off while the commission agreed to run a consultation process on the issue. The letter sent to operators last week suggests this time the ultimatum is final.

The commission banned in-play betting following the release of a review into online gambling in Australia. The Interactive Gambling Act 2001 allows in-play betting via telephone or at retail shops only; however a number of online bookmakers had begun to offer an in-play betting feature that offered wagers via a click-to-call service. The loophole that allowed this service to operate was closed and the bookmakers were ordered to cease offering the feature.

It is expected that Federal Human Services Minister Alan Tudge will push through a bill that will include a ban on in-play betting this year.

Sportsbet, William Hill, Ladbrokes and Bet365 offer this service and currently, Sportsbet is the only bookie to have agreed to comply with the directive. However, even Sportsbet has said they want to see the same regulations enforced for Tabcorp and Ubet.

“It is critical the Federal Government’s upcoming changes to legislation put beyond doubt that it is illegal for Tabcorp and Ubet’s retail stores to offer in-play betting via touch screen terminals, which offers the same betting experience to using an app on a smartphone or tablet,” stated Ben Sleep, chief financial officer at Sportsbet.

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