The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has officially warned the largest gambling company in the country – Tabcorp Holdings Ltd – after findings that the operator has accepted 37 illegal online in-play bets on a US college basketball game.
Online in-play betting is placing bets on a sporting event that has already started. Currently, such a kind of betting service is considered illegal in Australia under the Interactive Gambling Act 2001. The Australian Communications and Media Authority had received a complaint, so it investigated the sports betting company and its services. The investigation found that Tabcorp accepted a total of 37 illegal online in-play bets on January 3rd, 2021.
As explained by Fiona Cameron, a member of the ACMA, this is the first time when the regulator has taken action against a gambling company for violating the online in-play betting rules.
In addition, Ms Cameron revealed that in-play betting could pose a very high risk to punters who find it hard to control their betting habits or are considered gambling addicts. She reminded that the regulation of in-play betting has been in place for many years now, so Tabcorp had had enough time to make sure its systems were in line with the rules so that it did not offer in-play betting on local or international sports.
Online In-Play Betting Is Currently Illegal in Australia
The Australian betting giant responded to the action taken by the Australian Communications and Media Authority, saying that it did not manage to close betting in time because a third-party company had provided it with some incorrect match information. Tabcorp also explained there was a technical error because of which the online in-play betting options were made available to customers.
The gambling company shared that it paid out all winning bets and refunded the losing bets to consumers upon realising the mistake, with one being refunded only following the start of the ACMA’s investigation.
Ms Cameron from ACMA shared that in settling its enforcement action, the regulatory body took Tabcorp’s actions to deal with the unlawful in-play wagers into consideration, along with the company’s commitment to bring improvements into its systems and processes. She further revealed that alternative enforcement actions include potential penalties under an infringement notice, while the ACMA could apply to the Federal Court to impose an injunction or a civil penalty on the gambling operator.
The regulatory authority believes that Tabcorp had inappropriately paid out the winning bets. The ACMA also shared that all illegal wagers should have been declared void so that neither the gambling company nor its customers should have been able to draw benefit from the activity that is currently prohibited on the territory of the country.
The formal warning issued to Tabcorp by the watchdog should also serve as a notice to the entire gambling sector that it is expected to make sure there are robust systems in place that are able to prevent any possible availability of in-play bets.
The ACMA is set to investigate evidence of any lack of compliance with the consumer protection measures implemented by the Australian gambling operators. Ms Cameron warned that, if any breaches of the rules caused by genuine mistakes are found, the regulator would take into account whether a company had decided to pay out the illegal winning bets or had declared them void.