International edition
April 17, 2021

Australia

ACMA, Sportsbet in dispute over gambling app

ACMA, Sportsbet in dispute over gambling app
The ACMA is taking on Sportsbet, the Australian online sportsbetting firm over its in-play gambling app.
Australia | 07/19/2016

The ACMA is taking on Sportsbet, the Australian online sportsbetting firm over its in-play gambling app.

A

lthough licensed in Australia, Sportsbet has allegedly fallen foul of the country’s ban on in-play betting.

A complaint was received by the Australian Communications and Media Authority over the mobile app that allows gamblers to place bets during the course of a match. For example, gamblers can place bets on who scores the next try in an NRL game or the next goal in a soccer match.

So-called ‘in-running’ bets are effectively banned under current law.

Sportsbet is owned by UK-Irish betting giant, PaddyPower Betfair, and launched its Bet Live app earlier this year. But under the IGA (Interactive Gambling Act 2001) only in-play bets placed over the phone are permitted. The law was stiffened in the wake of a federal review into the country’s outdated gambling legislation.

ACMA Have Second Bite Of the Legal Cherry

The ACMA may fancy their chances with the police this time around. Last year, the authority launched a doomed attempt to have William Hill prosecuted for its use of similar in-play services.

Ultimately, however, the police dropped the case for lack of a chance of prosecution.

Despite William Hill’s success, some overseas sites like Ladbrokes dropped their in-play services altogether.

Offshore sites like William Hill and bet365 have come under attack Down Under for their loose interpretation of Aussie laws.

Under current legislation, in-play bets made online are prohibited. However, firms have navigated round the law with ‘click-to-call’ software which utilises the customers’ computer microphones.

This allows the computer to make ‘phone bets’ automatically at a the click of a mouse. The government had enough and Tony Abbott instigated a review of online law just before he was ousted as PM.

Sportsbet Move Follows NT Shutdown

With the ACMA pursuing legal action, it could be a matter of time before Sportsbet down tools on their live betting operation.

But just last month, Northern Territory hinted that they may close the loophole entirely for their licensed operators. Sportsbet holds a gaming license from NT.

NT’s gaming commission sent out letters recently to operators spelling out its concerns.

“[By] taking immediate action on this matter, the Northern Territory Government may head off future action by the federal government which may ultimately result in it taking control of regulation of the online wagering industry,” said NT’s Chief Minister, Adam Giles.

Licensed sportsbooks using live betting services online have a month to shut down or face potential action from Canberra. The ACMA suddenly went even-money that their latest prosecution case will make it through.

Of particular threat to Sportsbet is its in-play bets on NRL. The Aussie sportsbook only signed a massive sponsorship deal with the National Rugby League in May. The deal is worth AUD60 million.

As official NRL betting partner, Sportsbet will receive plenty of promotion through Fox Sports and Network Nine. As part of the deal, Sportsbet will fund a responsible gambling programme to protect minors. Presumably, the firm will soon not have to worry about whether their in-running services is attracting gamblers of the wrong age.

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