adbrokes last week relaunched its in-play feature, now called LivePlay, and joins William Hill and Bet365 in allowing punters to bet via the internet or smartphones even when an event has started.
Their Australian rivals and the Irish-owned Sportsbet have held back from launching equivalent systems, believing that allowing bets to be placed with the click of a button without punters having to speak to an operator would be a breach of the Internet Gambling Act 2001.
Former NSW premier Barry O’Farrell is expected to refer to live betting when he hands down his review into internet gambling this week.
In a submission to the review, the Institute of Public Affairs has urged Mr O’Farrell to make in-play betting legal by repealing the Howard-era ban on betting live via the internet. “The ban on ‘live’ or ‘in the run’ betting is technologically illiterate and easy to avoid,” IPA researchers Chris Berg and Simon Breheny write. “Techniques that firms have used to arbitrage around the legislative framework demonstrate the weakness of legislative controls.
“Live betting offers consumers more choice, greater participation in spectator sport and the opportunity to manage betting risk more responsibility.”
The IPA also rejects the push from the betting industry in Australia to ban punters from accessing overseas betting sites, calling it “a form of rent seeking”. It believes moves to force internet service providers to block overseas gambling sites is a form of protectionism and censorship.
“Restrictions on online betting … are paternalistic and unjustifiable on liberal democratic grounds. Policymakers cannot assume that imposing their scepticism of the benefits of gambling is a reflection of the actual preferences of consumers,” it says.
NSW, under Racing Minister Troy Grant, has banned advertising of live odds during sports broadcasts other than for Test cricket and golf tournaments.
At the height of the debate over the legality of in-play betting, Ladbrokes withdrew its in-play system while the Australian Federal Police examined the issue. With the AFP declining to investigate, Ladbrokes has reactivated the feature.