The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has revealed four leading online gambling brands have breached in-play betting rules in the country, with Ladbrokes and Bet365 among those flagged.

ACMA said the operators breached interactive gambling rules through the use of “Fast/Quick codes” to facilitate in-play betting on sports. Entain-owned Ladbrokes and Neds, as well as Hillside’s Bet365 and Sportsbet, were the four guilty parties named by ACMA.

Australia’s Interactive Gambling Act 2001 prohibits in-play betting on sports matches, with only limited exceptions. These include placing the bet over the phone, whereby the player must make an actual phone call to make the wager.

Players must first gain a Fast/Quick code from an operator’s website or app to build an in-play wager. This code embeds the event, bet selection and bet type of the in-play bet. The player then quotes this code when making the call to finalise the bet.

However, ACMA said this was not the case with Ladbrokes, Bet365, Neds and Sportsbet. The authority said the operators’ in-play betting services individually generated codes for each in-play bet when that wager was built via the service’s website or app, at least for the first customer.

ACMA said betting information in the codes was communicated to the wagering service via the website or app, not over the phone as required for the betting exception to apply. As such, each of the operators were ruled to have breached the Interactive Gambling Act 2001.

ACMA stops short of enforcement action

However, ACMA noted that the four brands have since taken steps to ensure Fast/Quick codes comply with betting rules. This action, ACMA said, means codes will be generated prior to events commencing, independent of a customer selecting that bet. Codes will be generic and the same for all customers.

In view of this, ACMA decided not to take any further enforcement action against the four brands at this time.

“We investigate anyone who breaks the rules for online gambling services,” ACMA said. “This includes providing or advertising online gambling services that are illegal.

“Anyone who breaks the rules may face criminal charges and/or civil penalties. This includes anyone who helps someone break the rules.”

More illegal websites blocked in Australia

The announcement comes as ACMA this week also issued banning orders against 11 illegal gambling websites.

ACMA requested Australian internet service providers block access to the mixture of online gambling and affiliate marketing websites.

ACMA flagged Greenspin, Slotman, Jeetcity, Betibet, Candyland Casino, Thunderpick, Golden Lion, Digits 7, Sector 777, New Vegas and PayID Pokies. It said each website was in breach of the Interactive Gambling Act 2001.

Since ACMA made its first request in November 2019, some 893 illegal gambling and affiliate websites have been blocked. In addition, 220 illegal services have exited Australia since the authority began enforcing new illegal offshore gambling rules in 2017.

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