portsbet, owned by Irish betting giant Paddy Power, has warned the government risks forcing more gamblers onto the offshore "black market" if it fails to move in step with rival jurisdictions and allow in-play betting.
Under the 2001 Interactive Gambling Act, bets on live matches that have already started can be taken in store at retail outlets or over the phone but not online. An array of international wagering companies including Sportsbet and Bet365 argue that distinction between phone and online services is now out of date and has failed to keep pace with the betting habits of punters.
"In a real sense the IGA is 'analogue' legislation ill-suited and ill-equipped to deal with the digital age," Sportsbet said in a submission to the Barry O'Farrell-led review into the impact of offshore wagering."Consumers now expect to be able to wager on their mobile devices and over the internet but Australian licensed wagering service providers cannot legally provide this in-play product."
Sportsbet said rather than trying to stem the flow of more than 2200 illegal offshore operators through ineffective means such as internet and financial transaction blocking, it made more sense to create a level playing field for licensed Australian operators.
"Blanket gambling prohibition does not work in the digital age. Measures to address the increasing threat of offshore operators without addressing the root of the problem and the fundamental reason why Australians are betting offshore: access to the in-play product via mobile devices and the internet – will not achieve the outcome the government is seeking. In this context, improving appropriate supply is plainly the best way to cut off popular demand," the company said.