According to media reports in Australia, the existing ban on in-play betting, also known as online betting on live sports, will remain in place until the next federal election. The decision was taken after the submission of a government commissioned investigation into replacing the current Interactive Gambling Act 2001. According to The Australian, the government has not yet taken a final call on the issue and the subject will now be revisited only after the election. Possibly broad ranging changes are envisaged that is best left to the incoming dispensation. The election dates have not been announced but could be as late as January 2017. Meanwhile Australian punters wishing to place in-play bets on live sports events will have to go to illegal offshore operators.
Proponents And Opponents Of In-Play Sports Betting
Apart from the Government and the punters there are other stakeholders on the issue of online in-play betting. One of them is the existing wagering giants like Tabcorp and Tatts Group operating mainly from land based outlets. They contend that the legalisation of in-play betting will unbalance the playing field in terms of taxation. These companies pay huge amounts to the government and sporting bodies in taxes and licensing fees compared to nothing that is paid by the offshore competitors. Peter McGuaran, chief executive of Racing Australia, wants a permanent and blanket ban on all in-play sports betting. His contention is that if such in-play betting is allowed then punters will move away from horse racing to sports betting and this will effectively spell doom for horse racing in Australia.
Major brands such as Ladbrokes, William Hill and Sportsbet favour a regulated in-play betting system. They have stated that there is no evidence of the alleged link between in-play betting and the manipulation of sporting events. Social awareness groups have also had their say. Their claim is that legalising in-play betting will increase the incidence of problem gambling.
The Road Ahead For In-Play Sports Betting
Before taking this decision, the Human Services Minister Alan Tudge apparently briefed the Coalition MPs, who expressed their support. The Minister also laid out the future plan. He said that the government would take a three stage approach on the issue. First and foremost was installing a structure for consumer protection. Then the issue of offshore bookmakers would be addressed. Only then would the government take a final decision on the liberalisation of in-play sports betting.
In January 2016, Tudge had hinted in an interview that the government was not against in-play betting, so the current extension of the ban is surprising.