Friday, June 10, 2016 : IN-PLAY BETTING BLOW FOR OPERATORS IN AUSTRALIA
Northern Territory licensing jurisdiction orders operators to cease offering in-play action within 28 days.
The Northern Territory, an Australian province favoured by online gambling operators due to its reasonable tax regime, delivered a shock to the industry Friday, ordering its licensees to cease offering in-play betting within 28 days.
The Northern Territory Racing Commission wrote to bookmakers, nearly all of whom are licensed in the territory, warning that four companies offering the "click to call" service, including the foreign-owned Wiilliam Hill group, must stop offering the popular in-play product in order to avoid action by the Australian federal government against the province.
Our readers will recall that the federal government recently announced a planned ban on in-play betting following a review of the Interactive Gaming Act, although it did not specify a timeframe for such legalization, leaving the market open as operators continued to offer the product.
In the letter to operators, John McBride, chairman of the NT Racing Commission, explained:
"This action has not been taken lightly, especially in light of the legal advice provided at the time; however, the Northern Territory Chief Minister and Minister Peter Styles consider that taking immediate action on this matter may head off future action by the federal government which may ultimately result in it taking control of regulation of the online wagering industry.
"By acting now, the Chief Minister hopes that the NT can demonstrate that we are capable of regulating the industry responsibly and without the need for significant federal government interference."
MacBride added that the NT government will change legalization to ensure it aligns with the federal governments position on the issue. He said that the legislative amendment to the provinces law will prohibit a bookmaker from accepting a bet on a sporting event, after commencement of the event, in a manner that uses a recorded or synthetic voice – the basis on which click to call tools currently operate.
Betting operators registered in the NT include William Hill, Sportsbet, owned by Irish giant Paddy Power, the James Packer-controlled CrownBet and the privately-held Bet365.
Australian gambling groups Tabcorp and Tatts Group also have online only subsidiaries registered in the NT, Luxbet and Ubet, although neither offer in-play betting to their customers.