The Interactive Gaming Act (IGA) is the law by which Australia regulates interactive gambling within the country. This law allows in-play sports bets to be placed via telephone only. Based on this law, various online betting sites took advantage of a loophole in the law and began offering voice activated mobile applications that facilitate a click to call option for Aussie bettors to use when wagering.
In response, the Northern Territory Racing Commission (NTRC) contacted all of its licensees, instructing them to close their in-play betting apps. It was deemed by the NT government that these mobile in-play click to call apps were circumventing the in-play wagering restrictions established in the IGA.
The initial request did not include a time frame by which the apps must be closed. The offending operators did not initially move on the request as there was no deadline for compliance. Based on this, the businesses were not in a rush to withdraw the money making applications. The licensees then received a letter that instructed them to complete the closure of these click to call betting apps within 28 days.
Originally, the NT government was supportive towards the concept of online in-play wagering. The NRTC chairman John McBride stresses that the decisions to require that the apps be discontinued was not taken lightly. He is hopeful that the operators will comply willingly so that further federal governmental involvement is not necessary. McBride stated that it is not their desire to have the federal government take over the industry and that he hopes that the hands off regulatory approach can continue.
Not everyone views the cease and desist request as a negative move. Matthew Trip, CEO of CrownBet expressed his views that willing compliance would result in the eventual legalization of online in-play betting. He is confident that if operators come together in a united front that they can then lobby for legitimate regulation of in-play wagering services.
The enforced restrictions of in-play wagering online do not impact other sports betting options. Aussie residents are still free to enjoy traditional sports betting opportunities from both local sportsbooks and licensed offshore sportsbooks. The NT government is taking issue only with the in-play betting services. Their hands-off position concerning online gambling regulation is a positive element for the gambling market in Australia. It is always a good thing when the government is NOT trying to come in and take over with an abundance of gambling laws in Australia that potentially over-reach.