Convoluted Australian Gambling Laws Scanned for Contradictions


Posted: October 27, 2011

Updated: October 4, 2017

Operators hope that a review of the Interactive Gambling Act will bring more certainty to Australian online gambling

The current state of online gambling in Australia is far from simple and understandable unless you are the master of doublethink as described by Orwell. Turns out there are some major problems with Australian gambling laws which manage to simultaneously make certain activities both legal and illegal.

The majority of online gaming operators are hopeful that the ongoing government review of the country’s Interactive Gambling Act will create a more logical approach to gambling in Australia.

Australian gaming during the recent period of time saw major global players take over local operators. Sportingbet took over Centrebet, Betfair Sportsbook entered a fifty percent joint venture with Australian top land-based group Crown and Paddy Power purchased Sportsbet.

All these online sportsbooks in Australia offer so-called “push button”, “in-the-run”, “in-play” or simply put live betting propositions. This is an attractive service that will be growing steadily according to industry analysts.

However, Australian gambling laws are extremely confusing: they allow live betting on horse racing via online, mobile and land-based outlets. Yet the Interactive Gambling Act prohibits live betting on any other sports including Australian Football League (AFL) and National Rugby League (NRL).

The dilemma is quite simple and was explained by Nicholas Tzaferis, Tabcorp’s general manager of corporate affairs: ”Live betting on racing is difficult in Australia because the majority of our races are sprint races and over in 60 to 90 seconds. That does not make it conducive to live betting, unlike an AFL or NRL game, which plays out over 80-plus minutes.”

Yet, live betting on these events is allowed via phone, land-based outlets and is open to foreign gamblers.

A major publication told Australia gambling news: “Allowing phone use is an anachronism and the concession to overseas punters is an anomaly, considering the foreign ownership of Australian betting institutions, including Tabcorp, where the majority of its top 20 shareholders are offshore, principally Hong Kong and the US.”

The publication also stated that: “The Act is under review and it’s a fair bet it will be amended to allow internet betting, despite the risk of an increase in gambling.”

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