Under Australia’s Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (IGA), in-play or ‘live’ betting is restricted to in-person wagering at retail betting outlets or over the telephone. This last option has led a number of operators to launch apps that utilize voice recognition technology to allow punters to make in-play wagers via their mobile devices without having to resort to an actual person-to-person phone call.
Bet365 Australia’s new ‘betCall’ app joins rivals Ladbrokes and William Hill in offering Aussie punters this admittedly ingenious workaround. But while these new betting apps have caught the attention of punters, the country’s communications regulator has also taken notice. The Australian Communications and Media Authority recently lateraled its investigation of the apps to the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to determine whether these companies are in breach of the IGA.
The workarounds have also earned the ire of the country’s domestic bookmakers such as Tabcorp, who have yet to follow their international competitors’ lead. As a source told The Australian: “If these UK operators were good corporate citizens they’d turn the service off and stop diverting the resources of the Australian Federal Police, who have more important things to worry about, such as security.” (Playing the terrorism card: truly, the last refuge of the noncompetitive scoundrel.)
Bet365’s new app represents an about-face for the company, which scrapped its online in-play betting service in 2012 to demonstrate its sincerity as it pursued an Australian online betting license in the Northern Territory. Rival Paddy Power, whose CEO Andy McCue has called the online in-play ban “something of an oddity,” has yet to release a similar product via its down under offshoot Sportsbet.