Federal government of Australia stated that the online in-play betting on live sport events will remain illegal. The government also plans to eliminate all of the loopholes currently allowing bookmakers to offer this kind of services.

Sydney Morning Herald published a news informing that the government is also planning to introduce ‘disruption’ tactics in order to prevent Australians from gambling on the illegal websites of offshore operators.

Whether the unlicensed sites will be blocked or not, it is not known, but surely the government plans to name and shame such sites as well as their operators. The government will also cooperate with banks and credit cards operators to stop payments. The decision is a result of Social Services Minister Alan Tudge’s today’s release of a long awaited review of illegal offshore gambling by former New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell.

Currently the 2001 Interactive Gambling Act allows to provide bets on live games by means of phone, but prevents operators from providing such services online. This regulations alowes operators to bypass the system with a loophole by providing betting services using VOIP technology. William Hill, Paddy Power and Betfair-owned Sportsbet are the leading companies offering such option.

Tudge stated that the government will introduce a new legislation that will block the loophole. He said: “We are of the view that they have been in breach of the intent of the law, if not the actual law. We do not intend to further expand the online betting market”.

Tudge’s decision was warmly welcomed by David Attenborough, chief executive of Australian operator Tabcorp, who said that: “Online betting on live sport is an illegal form of wagering in Australia; it is pleasing that the government has removed any doubt about its legality, addressing the activity of those wagering operators who have been circumventing the law. Tabcorp also supports measures which crack down on unlicensed offshore operators; their activities pose a threat to racing and sports integrity, deprive our governments and racing industries of income and disregard consumer protection. Tabcorp will continue to work with the Government in the creation of a national wagering regulatory framework. Areas such as consumer protection and the growth in advertising, as well as wagering taxation, need a national approach”.

The decision however was criticised by the chief executive of the Australian Wagering Councils, Ian Fletcher, who represents such online brands as William Hill and Sportsbet.

Fletcher said: “Perhaps the gravest omission, and the real missed opportunity, is the apparent abandonment of Australian sport and sports integrity. Australians will continue to use the power and freedom the internet gives them to make choices about what they bet on – racing or sport, domestic or international events – when they bet – pre-match or in-play – and how they bet – in person, on the phone, or via the internet.”