Wednesday 1. June, 2016

Online Bookmakers Continue to Defy In-Play Betting Ban

Major online bookmakers have continued to offer in-play betting in Australia, despite the government announcing a ban last month. The ban was announced in April following a review by the federal government on online gambling.

Human Services Minister Alan Tudge sent letters to operators in the industry stating that the in-play betting service they offer is in breach of the ban and announcing that operators were expected to cease offering the service immediately.

However, a month later, bookies such as William Hill and Sportsbet are still offering this feature, arguing that until legislation has been introduced, the service they offer is still legal via a loophole. According to the Interactive Gambling Act 2001, in-play betting is only allowed via telephone; however these bookmakers offer a click-to-call feature that makes automated calls via their computer.

“Legislation will be introduced as quickly as possible to make the law unambiguous to all providers,” said Mr Tudge. “We made clear in our response that we do not intend to further expand the online betting market in Australia by legalising online in-play betting.”

This ban has been viewed as a big win for local bookmakers, Tabcorp and Tatts Group, who will have their competition from foreign bookmakers limited, as well as within the racing industry which expressed concern that the liberalisation of gaming legislation would impact their turnover.

However, international bookies have been lobbying the Australian government to relax its gambling laws, saying that punters are simply turning to illegal unregulated sites to place bets without legalised in-play betting within the country. Major sporting codes such as the AFL and Cricket Australia also argued against a ban, saying that legalising in-play betting would improve integrity within the sports betting market.

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