In-Play Betting Still a Stumbling Block for the Australian Federal Government

Michael Kruse / 15 September 2020

Online in-play betting in Australia has been a major stumbling block for all Australian policymakers thus far, and it will likely stay that way according to Australian gambling experts.

Paul Newson, Head of Advisory at Senet and Peter Cohen, former Chief Executive Officer of the Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation, say that it is unlikely that the Australian federal government will change its stance on the matter of live betting anytime soon.

According to the two experts, in-play wagering is still used as a topic that politicians can score points on, and as long as this remains to be the case, Australian punters will continue to place live wagers at offshore betting sites.

Problem Gambling Sustains the Ban on In-Play Betting

One of the reasons why the ban on in-play betting has been around for so long is problem gambling. People believe that if online live betting was to become legal, the number of punters with a gambling addiction will skyrocket.

However, this claim has never been backed by substantial data. What is more, it seems that legalizing in-play betting will reduce compulsive betting instead of increase it.

Newson agrees with this statement and says that problem gambling has been at a static and quite modest level for the last 15 years in NSW. He says that this doesn’t mean that the issue should be dismissed as it is quite serious, but with the right policies put in place, problem gambling can be even further reduced.

Newson says: “It’s a very serious issue and the appropriate policy initiatives do need to be in place and improved over time to embrace technology. But when you have player accounts, there is much more sophistication available to interrogate that information.”

Faulty Online Sports Betting Legislation

Director of the Agenda Group and former CEO of the Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation, Peter Cohen, shares Newson’s pessimism on in-play betting becoming legal for online punters.

Cohen says that a political stalemate has been reached in Australia with the ban on in-play betting, and for that reason, reversing the ban is something that he thinks is unlikely to happen.

He says that the interactive player protection model of the late 90s would have regulated all forms of sports betting and gambling in Australia and would have been an excellent legal framework.

However, in 2001, the federal government decided to get involved in online gaming and imposed the now-infamous ban on online sports betting.

Once the government did that, policymakers realized that their legislation outlawed all types and forms of online betting so they came up with a compromise, which turned out to be a faulty solution. They decided to allow pre-match online betting, but prohibited in-play wagering.

This created a sort of a Frankenstein online betting policy that has been created as a short-term measure but ended up being the norm. Even worse, seeing how the federal government doesn’t have control over the Senate, this legislation will probably stay in place for a very long time in the future too.

Peter Cohen agrees with this and says that even if the government tries to negotiate with the Senate, minor parties won’t be willing to use their political capital to advocate for legalizing in-play betting. He says that this issue is not on their agenda and they prefer to focus on matters related to energy policy and security, and not something that might paint them in a bad light.

Millennials Might Be the Game Changers for In-Play Betting

Jake Henson, COO of BetMakers Technology Group, agrees that the government drawing up new interactive gaming legislation is unlikely. However, he says that time-sensitive millennials might soon influence policymakers to legalize in-play betting.

Henson says that a two-hour field game is not an ideal product for a time-sensitive millennial. It is difficult to sit through and is not engaging enough. If millennials were given the chance to bet in-play, though, it’s easy to see how younger punters will be attracted to sports betting and sports in general.

Henson also goes on to say that this shift will likely happen when sporting codes push for the matter to be legalized too. He says that if they start to lose their audiences and their TV ratings start to drop, it is likely that sporting codes such as the AFL and NRL will look to get their product closer to the new type of viewer.

That will mean that authorities might start to feel more pressure to legalize in-play betting and the matter might get a look in once again.

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Michael Kruse
Michael loves all things all horse racing and has been in the game for quite some time. His knowledge in the betting space is second... [Read full bio]

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