Regulation Comes Thick and Fast
The measures designed to curb mobile gambling in Australia have been varied. Earlier in the year, the government pushed new online gaming rules that, if passed into law, would impose a blanket ban on online poker. The move led some offshore poker platforms to withdraw their operations, while other businesses, including major players such as PokerStars, have indicated they will block players in the Australian market if the rules are approved by parliament.
A ban on online in-play sports betting has also been strengthened, a move that also threatens to erode the market share of bookmakers operating in the digital space. Some of the world’s largest sports betting operators exposed a loophole in a previous ban by allowing users to place live sports bets almost instantaneously through their mobile apps and websites. The government stepped in, implementing laws that no longer allow bettors to place an in-play wager with a few taps of their mobile screen.
There are numerous other proposed measures, including a ban on bookmakers offering lines of credit to their Australian customers. The likes of Bet365, William Hill Australia and Sportsbet will also face stricter rules around offering free bets and other incentives that encourage their customers to keep placing wagers. Bettors will also have easier access to setting their own wagering limits under the proposed laws, which are expected to pass Australia’s parliament later in the year.
Mobile Gambling Down Under Passes the Test
Early indications are that Australia’s mobile gambling industry is taking the stricter regulations in its stride, with bookmakers continuing to record growth across their digital products. In fact, mobile and internet wagering has grown by 23% in the first half of 2017, and now accounts for more than 65 per cent of total industry turnover. The latest market analysis also points to numerous bookmakers winning gains in app download share, which is often linked to increased revenues.
The reasons for this resilience are varied, with innovation a key factor. Australian gambling apps regularly offer ground-breaking features not seen in other parts of the world. For example, William Hill provide their Australian customers with free live horse racing streams from racetracks in Victoria and New South Wales, a service that UK-based customers have to pay for. SportsBet, meanwhile, have launched a novel mobile feature called Power Play, which allows bettors to manually boost their odds on selected sports wagers. Customer-friendly initiatives such as these are clearly equipping the mobile betting industry Down Under with tools to combat anti-gambling directives.