Aussie online betting operators call on Govt to lift laws

Australian online betting companies have claimed present restrictions keep them from competing with offshore betting operators

Australian online betting companies have called for the relaxation of online gambling laws, claiming the regulations restrict them from competing with offshore companies.

In its submission to the Federal Government’s review of the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (IGA), online betting company Sportsbet claimed the regulations should be amended to allow Australian-based websites to offer “in-the-run” betting, which refers to the placing of bets once an even has commenced.

“Betting after an event has commenced is available over the phone and in retail outlets in Australia,” the submission reads.

“With Australian-based websites prohibited from offering betting in the run in online, Australians are choosing to place bets in the run online through unregulated overseas websites.”

The company claims the issue is separate from that of the broader online gaming debate, and that it is simply an issue of platform neutrality as this form of betting already exists over the phone and in TAB retail outlets.

“Sportsbet urges government to address this issue as a matter of urgency and allow betting in the run online with Australian registered wagering operators.

“This would achieve the stated goal of platform neutrality, remove a major disadvantage to licensed Australian online wagering operators and allow Australian consumers to bet in the run safely.”

Fellow online wagering firm, Betfair, has joined Sportsbet in the push for the removal of the restrictions around online in-play betting online as well as online interactive games.

“This approach would ensure that the issues surrounding problem gambling and integrity in sporting contests can be managed more effectively from within Australia,” Betfair’s submission reads. “Further, Australian consumers of these services would be afforded enhanced consumer protection, tax revenues would remain in Australia and can be used to fund problem gambling programs and research projects and Australian operators will be able to compete with offshore gambling operators on an even playing field.”

“One key reason that the IGA is presently ineffective is that it failed to regulate services, and instead focused on the methods by which those services are delivered (e.g. telephone, internet) and therefore became antiquated on a rapid basis.”

According to Sportsbet the prohibition of Australian-based websites offering online gaming is ineffective in reducing problem gambling as Australian continue to spend in the order of $1 billion annually on online gaming through unregulated offshore sites.

Also weighing in on the topic with its submission was Tabcorp, which was in agreement with its competitors and stated online gambling must be deregulated so Australian are not forced to bet with offshore operators.

“This will also enable domestic operators to compete on a level playing field where player protection standards can be assured.”

Tabcorp also claimed a national code of conduct for wagering and sports betting should be established to cover elements of the industry including marketing, credit betting, the offering of financial inducements to open an account and to convey messages of responsible gambling, self-exclusion and compliance with the code.

The call comes at a time when the focus on problem gambling has been fixed on implementing controls on poker machines to eliminate problem gambling.

The Federal Government has continued the upward battle to implement its mandatory pre-commitment scheme with all states, except Tasmania, complaining that it should remain optional.

The scheme would require patrons to nominate their maximum losses before they started playing the pokies.

Follow Chloe Herrick on Twitter: @chloe_CW

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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