The federal government has announced it will close a loophole that has enabled online live sports betting.
In-play betting is only allowed over the phone, but some betting companies have phone applications that allow punters to easily place bets during play.
The so-called ‘click-to-call’ function sees an automated call made within the app and allows bets to be placed within seconds.
The government said it would legislate to ban ‘click-to-call’ apps, but Human Services Minister Alan Tudge expects companies to cease the practice immediately.
“I would hope that they would cease doing this today, because we have clearly indicated that we believe that they’re operating against, certainly, the intent of the law, if not the actual law,” he said.
“The online environment has the potential for people to get themselves into serious trouble,” he said.
Anti-gambling independent senator Nick Xenophon said the in-play betting changes were not enough.
“What is concerning is the government won’t commit to a permanent ban on in-play betting, given the link between in-play betting and gambling addiction,” he said.
“The concern is this is a short-term solution to get the government through the election.”
Illegal offshore wagering also targeted
The government said it would also work with banks and credit card providers to identify ways to block payments to illegal offshore wagering.
“The tougher laws will seriously disrupt the illegal offshore providers from acting unscrupulously or targeting vulnerable Australians,” Mr Tudge said.
“Clearly if bets are being made on illegal offshore gambling sites people do not have the same legal protections or consumer protections.
“There are also issues in relation to sports integrity.”
The report estimated illegal offshore gambling accounted for between five and 25 per cent of the online betting market – up to $400 million annually.
The government has accepted 14 of 19 recommendations in full and four in-principle, including developing a national self-exclusion register and forcing operators to allow punters to set voluntary betting limits.
The government’s announcement comes in response to a review of Australia’s online wagering sector written by former New South Wales premier Barry O’Farrell.