Industry regulator and watchdog The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has identified violations of interactive gambling regulations by prominent betting operators, including Ladbrokes, Neds, bet365, and Sportsbet.
The breaches concerned the use of “Fast/Quick Codes” that facilitated in-play betting on sports events, contravening regulations outlined in the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001.
The Act strictly prohibits in-play betting on sports matches, except for specific circumstances, such as bets placed wholly over the phone. To qualify for the phone betting exception, customers must communicate all information regarding the bet selection, bet type, bet amount, and confirmation of the bet exclusively through the phone call.
Fast/Quick Codes, issued to customers using operators’ websites or apps to construct in-play wagers, encode event details, bet selection, and bet type. When customers call the operator to place their bets over the phone, they reference the Fast/Quick Code along with the bet amount, confirming the bet.
ACMA’s investigation found that Ladbrokes and Neds (Entain), bet365 (Hillside), and Sportsbet (Sportsbet) each generated unique Fast/Quick Codes for individual in-play bets when that bet was built by a customer through their website or app (at least for the first customer).
In these instances, the ACMA determined that the betting information embedded in the Fast/Quick Codes had been transmitted to the wagering service via the website or app, rather than exclusively through the required phone call.
In response to the investigation, ACMA lists all three operators have taken corrective measures to align their use of Fast/Quick Codes with the strict interactive gambling regulations.
These measures involve generating Fast/Quick Codes prior to the events commencing, independently of a customer’s bet selection. The revised approach ensures that the codes are generic and identical for all customers.
Following these remedial actions, ACMA reports it has chosen not to pursue further enforcement measures at this time.
The incident comes as gambling companies face pressure over gambling advertising as the federal government reviews a ban on all gambling advertising from online companies.
From April next year, gambling companies will have to include new warnings addressing the risks of betting on all ads, in a move that aims to help online gamblers.