Australia’s Interactive Gambling Act 2001 restricts in-play wagering to telephone or in-person bets at retail venues. But recent months have seen a trio of online gambling companies licensed by Australia’s Northern Territory Racing Commission (NTRC) release mobile apps designed to get around these restrictions.
The apps – William Hill’s Click to Call, Ladbrokes’ Quickcall and Bet365’s betCall – work by using a mobile device’s voice recognition technology to confirm online in-play wagers without the need to place an actual voice call to the bookmaker. Australia’s national communications regulator recently referred its investigation of the legality of these apps to the Australian Federal Police.
On Thursday, The Australian quoted an NTRC spokesman saying it had approved Hills’ app “based on submissions from the sports bookmaker and independent legal advice.” However, the NTRC qualified that it had “made it clear to the licensee that it was their risk [of breaching the IGA], noting that there was no legal precedent that could be assessed by the commission for such a product.”
The NTRC spokesman went on to say that if the apps were ultimately determined to be in violation of the IGA, the NTRC “will undertake its own investigation and assessment to determine whether the licensee is fit and proper to hold an NT sports bookmaker’s license.”
The Northern Territory is considered Australia’s preferred online betting licensing jurisdiction, based on its highly favorable tax regime. Other Aussie states have contemplated imposing point-of-consumption taxes to ensure they get their slice of NT-licensed operators doing business with punters based outside the NT.