The world of Gambling has been rapidly evolving over the last two decades. At the start of the nineties, one would have to travel to a few select cities across the globe to place their bets, or participate in dangerous and illegal back alley games. As the decades have gone the world of gambling has transitioned to the internet, and then on to smart phones.
The introduction of technology to the world of gambling has made the regulations relating to gambling extremely ambiguous. Do the laws of your country apply when you are gambling on the internet? This is the question that has forced Canberra to review their Interactive Gambling Act. The government is extremely concerned about the sports betting and online poker services that can be accessed from smart phones.
The Canberra organization has assigned Social Services Minister Scott Morrison in charge of this new review. Scott Morrison is in charge of all gambling regulations in the region. This is the case, even though the Interactive Gambling Act is supposed to be under the jurisdiction of the Communications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull.
So far, Malcolm Turnbull’s office is stating that the reports are just speculation. The office is stating that they will comply with any review, but they are waiting on official word from the Australian government.
The Interactive Gambling Act was passed in 2001. The review is expected to get opinions from gaming operators, gambling help authorities, and betting agencies. The full review of the act should take until the end of the year. This review will almost definitely ignite growing tensions within the industry about how the industry should be regulated.
Several online casinos, including Bet365 and William Hill have been operating a system in Australia for several months that allows in play bets to be made from smart phones. This controversial because in Australia people are not supposed to be able to place bets after play has started in a game, unless they are doing so via phone or in person. This prohibits internet gambling on games that have already started, and is supposed to prohibit all smart phone betting of this type as well.
The company William Hill has come up with a very intelligent argument for why in play betting should be allowed from smart phones. The company is claiming that since smart phones are functioning phones as long as the microphone is on. William Hill is claiming that as long as the microphone is on, betters are placing a bet over the phone.
Several important groups are in favor of legalizing online in play betting, including the Australian Wagering Council. This organization is comprised of several different online casinos, including companies like Bet365. The organization is arguing that currently thousands of offshore gambling sites allow gamblers to place bets during games already. Betters throughout Australia are already utilizing these sites, and many casinos operating within the borders of Australia feel like they are being put at a disadvantage under the current rules. The AWC feels that the current laws should be amended in order to allow in play betting on all platforms.
While all of these companies are lobbying hard to allow in play betting on their platforms, many companies are not particularly confident about the legality of betting in Australia. In July, Ladbrokes, one of the most powerful British casino companies, decided to withdraw their in play betting service. They had been lobbying the Australian government for a change in the law, but they ultimately decided that they were going to stop offering in play betting.
William Hill is currently under investigation for their actions in the last few months. Their leader Tom Waterhouse is extremely considered about the possibility of legal action against the company and himself.
Industry leaders from a wide diversity of companies have chosen to speak out against the law the way it is currently worded. For example, the company Tabcorp has come out in support of a full review of the IGA. Tabcorp points out that offshore competitors are not just a threat to businesses operating under Australian law, but also a risk to consumers. These offshore companies are not required to play by the rules in Australia, which means that all consumer protection offered by the Australian authorities is moot. Another critical issue at play is the loss in revenue for the Australian government. The Australian government makes a significant amount of money on online gaming, but offshore companies do not contribute to the fund in any way.
The review of the IGA is long overdue, and there are many important issues at play for Scott Morrison. One of the biggest issues at play is the in play betting system that is currently being circumvented by overseas companies. Casinos across the country are hoping to see major progress in this latest investigation. Scott Morrison’s office has committed themselves to a thorough investigation, and they will look to make recommendations to the government soon.