Real-time monitoring of sports betting to prevent match-fixing looks set to be scrapped amid industry pullback

A key recommendation from a 2018 independent review into sports integrity and online betting should be watered down after the gambling industry’s pushback.

The Wood Review of Australia’s Sport Integrity Arrangements called for a “real-time betting fraud detection and response capability”.

But a recent regulatory impact statement on the proposed Australian Sports Betting Program (ASWS) signaled that the government was considering a non-real-time data platform.

The platform is designed for betting companies, sports bodies and federal investigators to share information about bettors, for example by allowing suspicious accounts to be matched between providers.

The betting companies indicated that any system would impose a significant load on their operations and supported a time-delayed system.

This is only part of the backlash against the ASWS, the centerpiece of the 2018 Wood Review.

The gambling industry says it supports the concept of an ASWS but is unconvinced by the government’s current argument for more regulation.

James Duncan, managing director for external affairs at Responsible Wagering Australia – which has the majority of sports betting companies in Australia among its members – said the country already had strong integrity systems in place and the main problem was with overseas suppliers. .

The ASWS is overseen by Sport Integrity Australia, and nearly $2 million was committed for its development in last year’s budget.

At the time, Sports Minister Richard Colbeck said the program would “bring together regulatory approaches across Commonwealth, state and territory jurisdictions to ensure there is a framework to protect the integrity of sport and making Australian sporting competitions more resilient to ever-evolving manipulation tactics”. “.

A proposal has been developed in the meantime and plans have been shared with the betting companies.

But a month away from the fourth anniversary of the completion of the Wood review, there is no indication yet of when the program will be delivered.

A spokesperson for Mr Colbeck said consultation was ongoing and no implementation date had been confirmed.

Understanding Quilting

Under Australia’s patchwork of sports betting regulations, an AFL bet made by someone in Perth, for example, is likely to be governed by the laws of four different jurisdictions.

In Western Australia, a point-of-use tax is applied, which increases revenue for the state government.

An AFL market or “contingency” – for example, placing a bet on the winner of a match or the best goal kicker of the season – can only be offered if the betting company has an agreement with the AFL, which is governed by law in Victoria, where the governing body is headquartered.

Online sports betting is federally prohibited by the Interactive Gambling Act unless the business is licensed by a state or territory.

Finally, the business license will likely be provided by the Northern Territory Government, which has been the jurisdiction of preference for most operators.

Thanks to the Northern Territory’s nimble licensing system, Darwin has become Australia’s sports betting hub.(Guided tours Australia)

This multilevel regulation makes the task of reform difficult. The 2020 ASWS working paper acknowledged that online in-play betting, criminalization of match-fixing, offshore betting and horse racing had “clear interdependencies with the ASWS” but were judged in outside the scope of the new program.

This fact has been echoed by Responsible Wagering Australia, which argues for a more comprehensive – and likely longer – reform process.

Separately, plans for a new betting law in the Northern Territory, where the bulk of Australian online providers are licensed, have been on hold for two years.

A 2018 review revealed the need for new legislation and consultation with industry was undertaken in 2020. However, there has been little evidence of progress since.

“Work has begun on drafting instructions which will be provided to industry as part of the consultation process,” said a spokesperson for the Government of the Northwest Territories.

Close links with industry

Although the sports betting industry is relatively small next to slots and horse racing betting, it is a major source of revenue for governments.

In recent years, the introduction of a point-of-use tax has allowed state governments to raise money from bets placed online by people within their jurisdiction. New South Wales expects to earn more than $100 million a year from the tax.

And betting companies also contribute to political parties.

Sportsbet spent around $170,000 on membership fees for Labor and Liberal business forums last year, Australian Electoral Commission records show.

A screenshot of the Sportsbet website
Sportsbet, owned by Irish company Flutter, is Australia’s most popular sports betting site.(Giulio Saggin: ABC News)

But the relationship is not just about money. The government wants to work with professional and responsible local betting companies to maintain consumer protection and minimize gambling harms.

A report published in October by Gambling Research Australia included a survey of approximately 3,000 interactive gamblers. It revealed that almost half had bet on offshore sites and problem gambling was more than three times higher for those using overseas sites than for those on land.

James Duncan of RWA thinks the current reform menu misses the point.

The federal government’s regulatory impact statement for the ASWS indicates that the next stage of reform is the development of a new policy proposal. Four more steps are required before it becomes operational.

Do you know more? Contact Jack Snape in Darwin: [email protected]

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