A handful of online sportsbooks facing fines of more than AUD $250m for taking in-play bets on sporting events have reiterated calls for an overhaul of Australia’s betting laws.
The Australian Interactive Gambling Act of 2001 bizarrely prohibits online sportsbooks from accepting wagers on live, in-play betting markets.
The law is seemingly as disconnected from common sense as the UIGEA or the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act ("PASPA") which are thorns in the side of US sports bettors.
Online sportsbooks William Hill and Sportsbet are among the bookmakers facing the scrutiny of Australian authorities.
Industry executives believe the law is no longer fit for purpose and needs to be to be modernized to keep up with changes in technology.
The Australian Wagering Council, which represents online sportsbooks including the likes of William Hill, Sportsbet, Unibet and Bet365, said the following according to a report by the Australian Financial Review: "Like many others, the Australian Wagering Council has long highlighted the need for the Interactive Gambling Act to reflect technological advances and changes in consumer preferences and online behaviour."
Off-line live sports betting in Australia
In Australia bettors can wager on live sports at betting shops and over the phone, but not online. Many sportsbooks have flouted the law – some deliberately, others because they are simply unaware of its existence – and Australian residents happily bet with them as breaches of the law can only be made by operators and not punters.
Some operators such as WilliamHill have developed clever workarounds such as popular click to call programs that do not require speaking to an actual operator.
Barry O'Farrell to Save the Day?
Former New South Wales politician Barry O’Farrell has been tasked with reviewing the federal government’s outdated law; a report is due by the 18th of December. If O'Farrell cannot be persuaded to overhaul the IGA to allow punters to bet in play on live sports, Australians will be missing out on one of the most popular forms of betting in the digital age.
Sportsbook Review will keep readers updated with the developments Down Under.
Australian sports bettors who have feedback that they would like to share are encouraged to write to firstname.lastname@example.org.