Social Services Minister Alan Tudge says government will not accede to requests for legalisation
The writing is on the wall for in-play betting – workarounds and all – in Australia after Social Services Minister Alan Tudge indicated Thursday that the federal government plans to ban the popular but contentious practice.
That will be a blow to major foreign companies operating Australia such as William Hill, Sportsbet, Ladbrokes and bet365 who have been lobbying for the variant to be legalised after using the computer microphone workaround to comply with laws which permit in-play betting via telephone.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the government decision will also disappoint Cricket Australia and the AFL, which have also been pushing for in-play to get the green light, claiming it will improve integrity in the sports betting market.
Organisations which will welcome the decision, having campaigned for an in-play ban include domestic gambling groups Tabcorp and Tatts Group, the horse racing industry concerned that legalisation might impact its turnover, and clubs and pubs, which apparently fear that more gamblers would bet online, reducing their profits.
Giving the first advance notice of government's intentions, minister Tudge said Thursday:
"The government does not intend to further expand the online betting market in Australia by legalising online in-play betting. The government considers 'click-to-call' in-play betting services are breaching the provisions and intent of the Interactive Gambling Act. The government will therefore introduce legislation to clarify the Act as soon as possible."
Tudge said that the recommendations of the O'Farrell review of the Interactive Gaming Act had been influential in the government's decision.
The government has apparently accepted all but one of the review's 19 recommendations, which include suggestions for stronger protection for gamblers, including a national self-exclusion register, a voluntary pre-commitment scheme and a ban on online wagering companies offering lines of credit.
"We expect online wagering providers to meet community expectations," said Tudge. "The tougher laws will seriously disrupt the illegal offshore providers from acting unscrupulously or targeting vulnerable Australians."
The O'Farrell review has recommended measures to strengthen the enforcement provisions of the IGA, giving the Australian Communications and Media Authority the power to issue new civil penalties against "agents who facilitate gambling with illegal offshore sites"…possibly targeting affiliate marketers.
Whilst not yet formally released to the public, the O'Farrell review has been widely discussed and speculated upon, and the minister appeared to accept it's rather wide estimate that between A$64 million and A$400 million is spent with illegal operators by Aussie online punters.
Minister Tudge revealed that the government is planning a framework model to minimise problem gambling within 12 months, with state and territory governments, industry bodies and law enforcement agencies all involved.
It is not yet clear how online punters will react to a government ban; the Australian Wagering Council – a trade body representing online bookies – has warned that Australians will continue to make in-play bets, simply using offshore unlicensed operators to do so.
Online Casino News Courtesy of Infopowa