Wednesday October 28, 2015 : AUSSIE ‘IN-PLAY' VICTORY FOR WILL HILL (Update)
Federal police decline to prosecute.
The Australian operations of William Hill plc have scored a significant victory over local regulators regarding in-play betting over the Internet.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the Australian Federal Police has declined to investigate a complaint by the Australian Communications and Media Authority that William Hill and rivals like Ladbrokes and Bet365 exploited a legislative loophole that allowed punters to place in-play bets online – as long as they leave their device microphone on.
Warned that the practice was questionable in a legal sense, William Hill and Bet365 challenged the caution whilst Ladbrokes folded and withdrew its in-play service in July this year.
"William Hill has received formal confirmation that the Australian Federal Police will not be investigating the complaints referred to it by the Australian Communication and Media Authority regarding its ‘In-Play' product that allows customers to bet live during a game with just a few taps," said Tom Waterhouse, CEO of William Hill's Australian operations.
"This is a great outcome for Australian punters who will no longer be forced to bet in-play via illegal offshore bookmakers who pose a huge threat to both consumer protection and the integrity of Australian sport."
The AFP confirmed it was not proceeding with an investigation on Wednesday.
"Following evaluation, in line with the AFP's case categorisation and prioritisation model, this matter was not accepted by the AFP for further investigation," a spokesperson told Fairfax Media.
However, whilst the Australian Communication and Media Authority acknowledged that the complaint had failed, it noted that it may refer future breaches to the AFP if new complaints are made.
"Notwithstanding the AFP's decision, the ACMA remains concerned about the potentially prohibited internet gambling content complained of and may refer future complaints about similar Australian hosted content to the AFP," the media regulator said.
Former NSW premier Barry O'Farrell is currently leading a review of the Interactive Gambling Act which is tasked with submitting recommendations to the federal government by December 18.
The Australian Wagering Council, whose members include William Hill and Bet365, is in favour of online in-play betting, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. It argues that by making the practice legal it will better enable Australian operators to compete with more than 2300 offshore operators who illegally offer the product to Australian punters.