plans to stall a decision on whether to authorize online in-play sports betting
until after this year’s federal election but could take more immediate action
to punish international online gambling operators.
Wednesday, Human Services Minister Alan Tudge briefed
governing coalition parliamentarians on the findings of the government’s review of the
2001 Interactive Gambling Act (IGA), which was led by former
NSW premier Barry O’Farrell.
told the Herald Sun that the report and the government’s response
likely won’t be publicly released for a few weeks, but the newspaper claimed
the response would include a blanket ban on wagering on credit, a harmonization
of state-level promotional offer rules, as well as a national self-exclusion
scheme for problem gamblers.
Thursday, The Australian reported that the most controversial
element of the IGA review – whether to relax the restriction of in-play
sports betting to telephone and in-person wagering – won’t be
addressed until after the next federal election, which by law must be held by
January 2017 but will likely take place in the second half of 2016.
prospect of legalizing online in-play wagers has divided the domestic betting
industry, with Northern Territory-licensed online bookmakers and most sports
bodies in favor, while those opposed include domestic operators Tatts and Tabcorp, horseracing
stakeholders and the usual anti-gambling scolds.
But leaked poll
data shows Aussie voters are likely to punish politicians who
approve online in-play bets, a prospect that appears to have persuaded the
government to postpone a decision until after votes are cast.
Australian claimed the government would take immediate steps to close the
legislative loopholes that allowed online operators including William Hill,
Ladbrokes and Bet365 to launch voice-activated
smartphone apps designed to circumvent the existing in-play
To help offset the revenue hit this
crackdown will impose on domestic operators, the government is reportedly
planning to immediately amend the IGA to explicitly ban internationally
licensed online operators from accepting wagers from Aussie punters. The
government will grant additional powers to the Australian Communications and
Media Authority to ensure the amended law can be enforced, likely by ordering
Aussie internet service providers to block operator domains.
schemes have proven
ineffective in most ‘walled garden’ markets but the government
is reportedly mulling other moves to “disrupt’ international operators, which
presumably include restrictions on financial transactions with unapproved
gambling sites, another tactic that has achieved only
partial success in prohibition-minded markets like the US.