Australian in-play delay will boost offshore operators, say operators

Australian in-play delay will boost offshore operators, say operators

Friday, March 18, 2016 Totally Gaming
The AWC and Ladbrokes both expressed their willingness to work with lawmakers

Australian gambling operators have warned that a delay to legalising online in-play betting will simply mean more players using unregulated offshore sites.

Reports from Australia this week suggest the Turnbull government has decided to continue the ban on online betting on live sport until at least the federal election, which may only be held in January 2017.

The reports come three months after the conclusion of a government-commissioned investigation into replacing the Interactive Gambling Act 2001, with major operators, sporting bodies and integrity groups having told the inquiry that there is no evidence to support a link between in-play betting and the manipulation of sporting events.

Ian Fletcher, chief executive of the Australian Wagering Council (AWC), told TotallyGaming.com that while his body, which represents major operators such as William Hill and Bet365, will continue to work with lawmakers, he does not believe that an extension of the ban will actually deter players from placing in-play bets.

“The simple truth is Australians will continue to bet in-play via the internet with unlicensed offshore providers until reform is achieved to allow Australian licensed and regulated wagering operators to offer the product,” Fletcher said.

“Since the Australian parliament legislated a prohibition on live betting via the internet in 2001, 35 other countries around the world have enacted gambling regulation and no other jurisdiction has imposed a similar ban on their own citizens.

“Of course, Australians are already permitted to bet in-play both in person and over the phone and liberalisation online would assist in fighting increasing threats to sports integrity, both on Australian soil an internationally.

“Legal in-play betting actually strengthens the hand of sports bodies and policing authorities in tackling match fixing and associated abuse of wagering; an argument supported by state police services, COMPPS and world renowned sports administrators and regulatory experts.”

MPs were told this week that the government would take a three-stage approach to addressing online gambling, starting with consumer protection then tackling offshore bookmakers and lastly forming a position on whether in-play betting on sports should be legalised in the longer term.

The Australian suggested that all in-play betting will be banned in the short-term, including the phone-based platform offered by the likes of Ladbrokes.

While Ladbrokes Australia chief executive Dean Shannon did not want to pre-empt the government’s decision, he told TotallyGaming.com that he hoped retail-based in-play betting would receive the same treatment as remote options.

Shannon added: “While this would be a disappointing result Ladbrokes is committed to working within the legal boundaries that are set. Currently what has been printed in recent press articles is still speculation and I do not think we will have clear direction on where this is heading until the government officially responds to the report. I suspect the government may not wish to tackle this until after an election.

“The lobbying against in-play has clearly been self-serving, particularly from Tabcorp and Tatts. Presently you can place an in-play bet in a retail store or pubtab through a self service betting terminal or ipad or over the counter. In my opinion in-play is either legal or it isn’t. If it’s legal to call a betting agency over the phone , or go to a TAB and use a SSBT then it should be legal to place a bet using VOIP, as ourselves and other operators are offering.

“Realistically if there is a move to shut down the VOIP feature then in-play betting over the counter or via self service betting terminals should also be shut down as they both use the internet.”

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