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Unibet chief warns over Australian gambling regulation

Tue, Nov 8, 9:39am by Staff Writer

One of Europe’s biggest gambling operators has warned the Australian government that it faces a boom in unregulated gambling should the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill pass through parliament.

The bill is expected to pass through parliament in the coming months and will formally ban online betting in-play on sporting events.

In-play online betting has been gradually shut down in Australia over the last six months, after several corporate bookmakers withdrew their ‘Click To Call’ services which allowed punters to place bets through an automated IP phone service.

That withdrawal was prompted by the Northern Territory government closing a loophole which allowed Click to Call to operate for those who were registered in the NT.

It means that the only way a punter can bet on a sporting event in progress is if they make a phone call to a human operator, or they bet at one of Tatts/Tabcorp’s retail operators.

Now he federal government wants to clear up the ambiguity around the law, and the global head of Unibet, chief executive Henrik Tjarnstrom, has warned that unregulated bookmakers would now become the punters’ choice.

“The demand is still there and if the regulated operators can’t offer it and there is no strong enforcement against the unregulated operators, the alternative is always one click away and the customers will find it,” he told The Australian.

“If customers want to do it on their mobile, they will find a way to do it,” he said.

It is estimated there are thousands of unregulated overseas operators, most of whom offer in-play betting on Australian sports.

Under Australian law, it is not illegal for Australians to bet with these operators. It may be illegal for these operators to offer on Australian sport, but because they are based overseas, they are beyond the jurisdiction of Australian law.

Tjarnstrom said it was crucial that the needs of the customer were prioritised and that over-regulation was his company’s greatest concerns when further investing in Australia.

“In the end, it is the customer that decides. The regulation has to reflect what they want to have, and sooner or later that will happen,” he said.

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