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ACMA clears Sportsbet of alleged in-play betting breaches

| By Robert Fletcher
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has cleared Sportsbet of any wrongdoing after concerns were raised that the operator had breached the country’s ban on in-play betting.
ACMA illegal blocking

The ACMA case related to Sportsbet offering betting on the Brownlow Medal, which is awarded to the best and fairest player in the Australian Football League (AFL) season and determined by votes awarded by umpires at the end of each match based on the individual performance of players.

Sportsbet customers were able to bet on the award during the medal-count live broadcast on 18 September this year, wagering on the player they thought would win the medal for the best or fairest player.

ACMA flagged the case as the betting was taking place on an event that was live, which is not permitted under current sports betting rules set out in the Interactive Gambling Act (IGA) 2001. 

Specific, potential breaches included subsection 15(2A), which prohibits offering an online in-play sports betting service in Australia, as well as subsection 61DA(1A) and 61DA(3) that cover designated interactive gambling service advertising. 

ACMA “sporting event” definition

However, ruling on the case, ACMA noted that a definition of a sporting event was not included in Section 10B of the IGA, which sets out rules for in-play betting in Australia. 

As such, ACMA said as the televised medal event could not be regarded as a sporting event itself, nor was the outcome of the count a contingency that happens in the course of the event, Sportsbet did not breach rules by offering in-play betting.

Given this finding, ACMA also ruled Sportsbet did not contravene advertising prohibitions set out in the IGA by authorising the broadcast of betting markets during the Brownlow medal count.

Other Sportsbet markets

ACMA also looked at similar in-play betting offered by Sportsbet on the Norm Smith medal (AFL) and the Clive Churchill medal in the National Rugby League. 

Both awards are based on the performance of players during an individual match, with the award winner selected and announced at the end of the event by officials or independent persons. The selection of the winner is not dependent on the outcome of the event.

As with the Brownlow Medal Count, ACMA said it did not consider these awards to be a sporting event, or a contingency that may or may not happen in the course of a sport event.

Therefore, ACMA did not consider the betting markets on the outcome of these awards to be in-play betting services under the IGA, ruling Sportsbet did not breach any betting rules.

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