Australian bookmakers have again broached the subject of permitting online sports betting during live events. As is stands, Australian bookmakers can only accept bets on fixtures in progress over the phone and through retail outlets. This contrasts with Europe, where users can place bets online during matches. Australian bookmakers are, however, permitted to offer live online betting to non-Australian residents.
At the end of August, leading bookmakers called on the federal government to rewrite laws concerning live sports betting on the Internet. Betfair CEO, Andrew Twaits, said “with vastly improved technology, why is there a distinction between betting on the phone and the internet?” “It makes a mockery of the law.”
Sportsbet CEO, Matt Tripp, said the Productivity Commission’s draft recommendation last year did not have a problem with live online betting. He argues, “it just appears to be an anomaly in the Act and an oversight.”
Personally, I have never bothered to bet live over the phone, because by the time you’ve made a decision and get through to the bookmaker, the odds and events have changed.
From a punter’s perspective, the current ban isn’t a huge deal, because you can simply sign up with an international agency like bet365 and bet live online with them. The fact that we can do this underlines how flawed the current legislation is.
Live online betting is huge in Europe. According to Betfair, live betting accounts for 90% of wagers on cricket, tennis and soccer. Hence it’s no surprise that the Australian bookmakers are again making noise about the issue. It is, however, interesting that bookmakers are willing to broach the issue in the midst of the NRL and cricket betting scandals. There’s negative sentiment in the air regarding sports betting in Australia, so I think it’s a bold move to request greater freedoms in the midst of this bad publicity.