Weeks before the official release of a proposed responsible gambling legislation, Ladbrokes now clashes with other bookmakers in Australia over the content of the program. The betting giant blasted over the delay of the scheme, which is intended as a nationally consistent, multi-operator program including a self-exclusion model for gamblers.
Last year, the Australian division of the UK-based bookmaker joined rivals bet365, Betfair, CrownBet (now BetEasy), Sportsbet, Unibet into the industry group Responsible Wagering Australia. The independent body has worked closely with the federal, state and territory governments in the development of new industry standards under the proposed National Consumer Protection Framework. The reform includes multiple responsible gambling measures put together in 2016 by the Ministers such as the introduction of a national Self-Exclusion Register.
Last week, however, one of the leading members of Responsible Wagering Australia, namely Ladbrokes, bashed at the gambling ministers over the “frustrating” delay of the program. Patrick Brown, General Counsel and Corporate Affairs Manager at Ladbrokes Australia, described the governmental effort to develop and implement the measures as a “complete failure”, a “complete debacle”. The 11-point framework was too complex, which led to its unacceptable delay after it was first devised in late 2016, Brown told the Gaming, Racing, and Wagering Australia conference on August 16.
According to Ladbrokes, a simplified, yet perfectly effective model already exists in the Northern Territory and instead of trying to establish new rules, the governments should simply copy and paste what is working. Most online bookies in Australia hold their licenses from the Northern Territory so they should be fully aware of the measures taken there.
This week, the Sydney Morning Herald cited betting industry sources saying there is a hidden reason why Ladbrokes seem dissatisfied by the progress made with regards to the refinement and implementation of the reforms. The bookmaker is actually frustrated by the proposed ban on sign-up promotions, the paper writes, an inducement it heavily relies on for drawing new punters. There have also been accusations against Ladbrokes that it is not sufficiently “proactive” in protecting “the sustainability of the industry”.
Some Highlights from the Responsible Gambling Reform
One of the most essential measures itemised in the National Consumer Protection Framework is a scheme, which would allow bettors to ban themselves from online sportsbooks. The ban would become effective immediately across all betting sites and states. According to Stephen Conroy, Responsible Wagering Australia Executive Director, the reform also introduces a National Self-Exclusion Register. Another important measure, he says, is the compulsory staff training regarding responsible gambling.
The timeframe for customer verification would be reduced significantly, whereas punters who wish to close their wagering accounts would enjoy a much-simplified process. Gamblers should also be able to “opt-out” from bonuses and wagering as a whole and they should be given the opportunity to set betting limits when they set up an account.
A large portion of the proposal refers to the marketing in the online wagering industry. Along with the complete ban on sign-up bonuses and promotions, the reform envisions a simplification or complete lifting of turnover requirements for bets placed with bonus money. The winnings from such bets should not be subject to wagering requirements, which is a common bonus condition in almost all online bookies. Punters should be able to freely withdraw their winnings, instead.