Australian-facing online gambling industry firms are calling on the government to lift restrictions on in-play betting. Tabcorp, Betfair and Sportsbet called for the controversial Interactive Gambling Act (IGA) to be changed to allow companies to compete with the international firms that currently offer the services outside of the regulated Australian marketplace.
A submission from Sportsbet read: “With Australian-based websites prohibited from offering betting in the run in online, Australians are choosing to place bets in the run online through unregulated overseas websites.”
The IGA made all online gambling illegal even though states throughout the country offer different regimes that flout the ineffective nationwide laws.
Betfair’s two cents focused on protecting the consumers, saying: “Australian consumers of these services would be afforded enhanced consumer protection, tax revenues would remain in Australia and can be used to fund problem gambling programs and research projects and Australian operators will be able to compete with offshore gambling operators on an even playing field.”
It added: “One key reason that the IGA is presently ineffective is that it failed to regulate services, and instead focused on the methods by which those services are delivered (e.g. telephone, internet) and therefore became antiquated on a rapid basis.”
Tabcorp agreed, stating: “This will also enable domestic operators to compete on a level playing field where player protection standards can be assured.”
It’s no wonder that these firms are pushing for in-play betting to be allowed. As Mike O’Donnell showed, the Australian market is one of the largest in the world and in-play betting’s runaway success in Europe would be as attractive as a leggy-Sheila to the Aussie market.
Whether there will be any movement on deregulation or reform is unclear. Gambling industry eyes are firmly focused on pokies pre-commitment technology although a debate on the IGA definitely isn’t out of the question.