Bet365 AU Launches BetCall Even as Threats of IGA Enforcement Hovers over Feature
Not one to stay behind the competition by missing the gravy train, Bet365 launches BetCall in Australia, a day ahead of the 2015 Ashes England versus Australia —First Test on day one. Despite claims by critics that the betting service circumvents AU's Interactive Gambling Act 2001, which mainly prohibits transacting live bets online, Bet365 is the third foreign-based bookmaker to introduce in Australia the Voice-over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP)-supported betting system.
The first two are William Hill and Ladbrokes, both marketing the Click-to-Call/Quickcall features prominently in their respective website. Bet365 has taken on a more aggressive stance in AU's gambling market by running the TV ad that features Samuel Jackson, endorsing and promoting BetCall as a new and quicker way of placing in-play bets at Bet365.
The Interactive Gambling Act (IGA) 2001 of Australia allows in-play betting only if coursed through landline phones, and strictly prohibits the placing of bets online once the games have started. The VoIP-supported technology however, transmits phone calls to the web-based sportsbook by sending voice data in packets using Internet Protocol instead of going through the Public Switched Telephone Network as circuit transmissions. Customers initiate the betting action online but the system processes the bets via a telephone call, and therefore compliant with the method allowed by the IGA, whilst allowing faster communication using the powers of the Internet.
For a Click to Call, QuickCall or BetCall to work, a customer has to activate his or her computer microphone, as it enables the technology to encapsulate or enclose the message inside a set of codes as means of transmitting to different networks or computer systems.
However, local Aussie operators feel that they have been placed at a disadvantage, including Tabcorp who had accordingly received legal advice not to offer the same kind of betting service. Reports have it that the complaint put forward to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has mounted. Local operators claim that the new betting service offered by the UK bookmakers has been illegally eating away their market share, which they fear they will lose with every passing day that the Australia's IGA is not enforced.
The ACMA though has referred the matter to the Australian Federal Police (AFP) for investigation. ACMA explained that the complaint about the William Hill and Ladbrokes betting service involves content offered and hosted in Australia. Under the provisions of the IGA, the agency's investigative power covers only those hosted outside of Australian territory and furnished remotely via the Internet. Such being the case, ACMA's course of action when necessary, is to recommend investigation and refer the matter to the Australian Federal Police (AFP), which has jurisdiction over content hosted locally.
Except for confirming ACMA's referral of the matter to them, the AFP has not given any information on how they plan to carry out the investigation, much less on how they intend to enforce the IGA to the satisfaction of the complainants.
South Australia's independent Senator Nick Xenophon, is among those who have raised the issue with ACMA. Consistently on the warpath against matters related to online gambling, Senator Xenophon brands the new in-play betting tool as irreverent to Australia's Internet Gambling Act of 2001.