Shortly after a collation of gambling stakeholders – including wagering firms Tabcorp and Tatts Group – announced a lobbying campaign urging the government to maintain its ban on online in-play wagering, Paddy Power’s Aussie offshoot Sportsbet mounted its own campaign to call out the corporate bookies for anti-competitive practices.
Australia’s government is currently sitting on a review of the Interactive Gambling Act slated for release later this month. Some stakeholders – including the aforementioned domestic operators as well as racing and pokies groups – fear that the review will recommend an end to the restriction of in-play betting to telephone wagering and in-person wagers placed at betting shops.
In response to the grassroots campaign, Sportsbet government relations manager Brad Addison told local media that Tabcorp and Tatts’ in-play opposition was “hypocritical and protectionist.” Addison said the anti-online stance “further highlights their unwillingness to compete in a 21st century online environment that customers are increasingly preferencing.”
Sportsbet recently launched a mobile app intended to circumvent the online in-play ban. However, unlike similar workarounds by rival William Hill and others, Sportsbet says its Bet Live app doesn’t violate the ban because its process actually involves placing a phone call.
AUSSIES MAINTAIN STATUS AS WORLD’S TOP GAMBLERS
Meanwhile, Australians have maintained their position atop the charts of the world’s top gamblers. H2 Gambling Capital stats for 2014 showed Australia leading all nations by losing an average $1,279 per adult resident. The New Zealand Herald reported that H2’s 2015 chart show Australia maintaining its grip on the number one spot, with the annual loss figure rising to $1,396.
The H2 stats show a 9.3% year-on-year increase in Aussie gambling losses, higher than the 6% rise in 2015’s gambling spending the Australian Bureau of Statistics announced in December, although this latter figure represented all Australians, not just adults.
The Herald said Singapore maintained its status as the number-two loss leader, although Singapore’s losses are almost entirely due to the city-state’s two casinos, while casinos make up just one-fifth of Aussie losses.
Singapore was followed on the H2 2015 chart by the United States, Ireland, Finland and New Zealand. Finland, which ranked third in 2014, reportedly earned its two-position slide more from the appreciation of the US dollar rather than via any significant reduction in gambling behavior.