On April 28 Australian Human Services Minister Alan Tudge made the following statement concerning online sportsbooks accepting in-game betting.
“I would hope that they would cease doing it today because we have clearly indicated that we believe they are (operating) against the intent of the law, if not the actual law.”
Under Australian law in-game sports bets or live betting wagers can be taken by phone, but not online. Many internet-based sportsbooks either ignore this law or get around it by offering services where punters click on a button or link on a website and are connected to a phone operator who then takes the wager.
Popular bookmakers like William Hill, Bet365, and Betfair have been taking these wagers using the click to call loophole. Online sportsbooks like these are licensed in the UK and generally appear to attempt to operate within the laws of most countries where they accept wagers.
But if the Australian government bans these types of wagers and regulated books like those mentioned above exit the market, punters can find plenty of unregulated online books willing to take their wagers.
An argument is often made that big public companies like William Hill are safer for gamblers than many of the smaller fly-by-night operators who swoop in to fill the void when government regulations force the better companies out. Time will tell how all of this helps or hurts the average punters in Australia.
Tabcorp and the Tatts Group are the two big players for legal betting in Australia and they’ve both been lobbying for the government to shut down live betting online because it’s hurting their business. They both claim that internet live betting is illegal and want it stopped.
Robbie Cook is the chief executive of the Tatts Group and David Attenborough is the chief executive of Tabcorp. Here’s a quote about the issue from Attenborough:
“Online betting on live sport is an illegal form of wagering in Australia. It is pleasing that the government has removed any doubt about its legality, addressing the activity of those wagering operators who have been circumventing the law.”
Even though this issue is receiving a great deal of press coverage at this time, the end result may be more of the same as there’s no guarantee that new legislation will be put into place and passed before the election in early July.