A crackdown on live sports wagering has forced bookmakers in Australia to scrap in-play betting options on their mobile and online platforms. Gambling operators such as Ladbrokes and Unibet had sidestepped an existing government ban on in-play sports betting by exploiting a loophole in Australian gambling regulations. They did this by adding an in-play ‘click to call’ button that connected bettors to an automated operator, through which a live bet could be place on a computer, iOS or Android mobile device.
But the Australian government saw such initiatives as attempts to circumvent the country’s live sports betting regulations, which state that such bets can only be made by calling a bookmaker.
With stricter rules enforced, bettors seeking to make an in-play wager via their computer, tablet or smartphone will have to call the bookmaker, which can still be done from inside bookmakers’ mobile apps.
The move is a blow to online bookmakers Down Under, who have seen as much as six per cent of their Australian revenues generated by live play products.
It has, however, failed to deter some online betting businesses, who have already started rolling out new live betting products.
One such example is William Hill’s Double Down in-play feature. Launched by the Aussie sports betting site ahead of the 2016 spring racing carnival in Melbourne, Double Down allows players to match their current bets during a horse race at pre-race odds. With a single tap on their iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, Windows Phone or other mobile device, bettors can double their stake during a race they feel their horse is likely to win.
The move is a clear indication that, in the face of stricter in-play sports betting regulations from the Australian government, online bookmakers remain determined to push boundaries through new products that appeal to live sports bettors.