Discord In Aussie Sports Betting Industry?

William Hill and Ladbrokes have not joined new trade association

There is reportedly discord in the Australian sportsbetting sector over voluntary concessions proposed by the new trade body Responsible Wagering Australia, headed by former government minister Stephen Conroy, aimed at improving the industry’s image amid criticism of hard sell tactics and extensive advertising.

The RWA was formed following the collapse of predecessor and now defunct Australian Wagering Council, and has attracted Sportsbet, Bet365, Betfair, Unibet and CrownBet – all reportedly anxious to maintain a self-regulated profile.

However, William Hill and subsidiaries Sportingbet and Centrebet, along with Ladbrokes – major players in the Aussie market – have so far declined invitations to join, perhaps because the RWA has proposed changes in operating practice that include a ban on offering credit and sign-up incentives, and a reduction in advertising – particularly during broadcasts of sports events.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that whilst William Hill has declined comment on the RWA reforms, it has reminded enquirers that it was an active participant in the 2015 review of illegal offshore wagering, led by former NSW premier Barry O’Farrell, and supported the “development and implementation of an evidence-based responsible gambling framework”.

Ladbrokes also declined to comment on its position on the reforms “at this time”.

In what could be interpreted as a firm nudge, an RWA spokesperson said at the weekend:

“Our members are leading the industry and setting an example through their commitments to consumer protection, responsible gambling and harm minimisation measures. This is in contrast to other operators that do not demonstrate the same commitment to working with government and other stakeholders to improve regulation and consumer protection.”

The Herald claims the recent amendments to the Interactive Gaming Act effectively banning in-play betting and online poker will cost operators A$500,000 in profits.