Ladbrokes relaunches live betting in Australia

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Online sportsbook Ladbrokes (SBR rating A) has relaunched its live betting service in the Australian market after the country’s Media and Communications Authority failed to ban live sports wagering.

The bookmaker has seized upon a legal victory for rival William Hill in its own battle to keep accepting live bets, and Ladbrokes has now reactivated its LivePlay feature.

Online sportsbooks are banned from accepting bets on live games under the Internet Gambling Act 2001. The only way to get a bet on a live match is by calling a sportsbook and placing a wager over the phone. This has led some online sportsbooks to try to exploit a loophole in this law, telling customers to keep their computer microphones on while betting online, arguing that this constitutes a “phone call”.

The authorities were implored by regulators and government officials to clamp down on this practice, while sportsbooks have continued to resist, claiming the distinction between the Internet and telephone is archaic and not in line with the modern world.

Bet365 and William Hill both continued to operate in-play betting services in Australia, and the Media and Communications Authority took William Hill to court over the issue.

But William Hill won the legal battle over its Click to Call service after the Australian Federal Police confirmed it would not investigate the sportsbook for breaching online gaming laws.

The AFP said: “Following evaluation, in line with the AFP’s case categorisation and prioritisation model, this matter was not accepted by the AFP for further investigation," according to a report published at iGaming Business.

Tom Waterhouse, William Hill’s boss in the Australian market, said it was a great victory for punters and claimed it would stave off the threat of illegal off-shore bookmakers muscling into the lucrative market.

The Australian Communication and Media Authority also said that while its concerns over the feature remain, it will accept the AFP’s decision.

Ladbrokes has taken that as the green light to relaunch LivePlay and the floodgates could be set to open, with all rivalling firms launching in-play features. This would be a no brainer for operators as live wagering makes up more than 80% of bets in more mature markets like the UK.

Former New South Wales politician Barry O’Farrell has been tasked with reviewing the federal government’s outdated Internet Gambling Act, and a report is due by Friday, December 18.

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