The Australian Government has commissioned a review of Australia’s online gambling laws. The review will be led by Social Services Minister Scott Morrison and focus on the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (Cth). The terms of reference for the review have not been finalised but the review will examine topics such as live-sports betting, the regulation of offshore gambling operations and the regulatory changes required, as prompted by technological advancements within the industry.
The Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (Cth)(IGA) regulates interactive gambling services and prohibits the provision and advertising of online gambling services (other than wagering) to Australian residents. The IGA currently prohibits “in-play” betting for live sporting and racing events so gamblers can only place an “in-play” bet via telephone or in person at a retail outlet.
Various bookmakers have been operating in a legal “grey-area” that allows for “in-play” betting via smart phone apps, claiming that the activation of the smart phone’s microphone constitutes compliance with the “phone” rule.
Bookmakers push for in-play betting
The Australian sports betting industry revenue is estimated to be ~A$500 million, but is the fastest growing segment in the gambling industry. Crownbet, who recently paid ~A$10 million to secure an official partnership with the Australian Football League, has stated that: “Any push to wind back in-play gambling will send punters to offshore and illegal sites. A well regulated market place where everyone understands the rules is essential for the government and the industry to protect vulnerable gamblers. We are seeking platform neutrality.“
Australian Wagering Council’s Position
The Australian Wagering Council’s policy on in-play betting is as follows: “Permitting online inplay betting will ensure that Australian operators compete on a level playing field with more than 2300 offshore illegal operators who already offer this product to Australian customers… The IGA should be amended to clarify that in-play wagering on sporting events will continue to be permitted, and on a platform-neutral basis, but restricted to the circumstances in which bet types are authorised by the relevant state/territory regulator and the relevant national sports controlling body.“
We await the release of the terms of reference for the review.