ACMA warns Tabcorp over illegal in-play betting

| By Robert Fletcher
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has issued a formal warning to Tabcorp after the operator accepted online in-play bets on a US college basketball game.
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The ACMA launched an investigation into Tabcorp after receiving a complaint, and found that the operator had taken 37 in-play bets during the game on 3 January this year.

Online in-play betting on an event during play is prohibited in Australia under the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 and, as such, ACMA ruled Tabcorp broke the law.

In response, Tabcorp said that it failed to close betting in time for the game due to incorrect match information from a third-party provider, while it also admitted to a technical error from within Tabcorp. 

Upon realising the mistake, Tabcorp said it paid out winning bets and refunded losing bets, though one was only refunded after the ACMA commenced its investigation.

ACMA considered Tabcorp’s actions to deal with the illegal bets as well as its commitment to improve its systems and processes, and decided to issue a formal warning to the operator. 

Alternative enforcement options could have included penalties under an infringement notice and application by the ACMA to the Federal Court for a civil penalty or injunction.

“We know that in-play betting, such as bets on the next point in a tennis match or the next ball in cricket, can pose a very high risk to problem gamblers,” Authority member Fiona Cameron said.

“These rules have been in place for many years and Tabcorp has had more than enough time to put systems in place to ensure that in-play betting is not offered on local or international sports.”  

Cameron added that rather than paying out for the winning bets, all should have been voided so neither operators nor punters benefitted from the prohibited activity.

She added that the industry was now “on notice” that it must have robust systems to prevent live betting, or face an investigation by ACMA.

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