UK corporate bookmaker Ladbrokes has accused the federal government of favouring incumbents Tabcorp and Tatts Group with its decision to ban instant online betting on live sports, leading the gaming giant to withdraw the service for punters.
While bets during live games can be taken over the phone or at retail outlets, the 2001 Interactive Gambling Act (IGA) prevents operators from offering online in-play gaming products. In a response to a review of the law, in late April the Australian federal government had announced plans to strengthen the ban on online in-play services.
International operators in Australia have come under fire over the last few months as they have flouted the federal government clampdown over their online gaming products. Operators including William Hill, Bet 365 and Unibet have continued to publicly promote their in-play ‘click to call’-type service, which allows punter to make their bets through a voice message made online.
Ladbrokes is the first overseas betting agency to confirm it will withdraw its in-play betting services. However the operator has still not been shy about taking a shot at rivals Tabcorp and Tatts Group. The ban on in-play is seen as a big advantage for the two incumbent betting companies in Australia.
“They really just made their decision on who lobbied the hardest and the loudest that being Tatts and Tabcorp,” commented Ladbrokes’ Australian Chief Executive Dean Shannon.
Citi in a broker note to clients said the NT ban on in-play was a positive for both Tabcorp and Tatts.
“We continue to view the anticipated withdrawal of click to call in-play betting product by the corporate bookmakers as a mild positive for Tabcorp and Tatts, not so much from an earnings perspective but more so from a levelling of the competitive playing field, as this product innovation has helped corporate bookmakers accelerate their share gains vs Tabcorp and Tatts over the last 6-12 months,” said Citi gaming analyst Rohan Sundram.