Operators ignoring Minister’s order to cease in-play betting services in Australia

Operators ignoring Minister’s order to cease in-play betting services in Australia

Thursday, June 2, 2016 Totally Gaming
Alan Tudge wrote to operators last month

Gaming operators are flouting a ban on in-play betting in Australia despite being warned in a letter from a Federal Minister that they are breaking the law.

According to the Fairfax Media news agency, Human Services Minister Alan Tudge wrote to operators after an announcement that laws against online in-play betting would be strengthened following a government review. Tudge said he expected operators offering online in-play betting to halt the service immediately.

However, one month on, and with legislation still to be amended, the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper reports that companies including William Hill and Bet365 are yet to withdraw their controversial ‘telephone’ in-play offerings – which can be made online as long as a microphone is active - with several operators continuing to publicly promote the service.

"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," Tudge said. 

"Legislation will be introduced as quickly as possible to make the law unambiguous to all providers. 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."

Critics of the ‘click-to-call’ operations have long suggested it is not in the spirit of Australian law, but that has not been enough to stop companies such as Ladbrokes from offering the service. Ladbrokes Australia chief executive Dean Shannon recently told TotallyGaming.com that the company was “committed to working within the legal boundaries that are set”, and argued that most forms of in-play betting used the internet in some way.

Shannon added: “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 self-service betting terminal (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 should also be shut down as they both use the internet.”

TotallyGaming.com says: “It is naïve to think operators will change their offering in advance of legal changes, particularly when they have long ignored criticism of their in-play services.”

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