AUSTRALIAN punters could look to unrelated bookmakers if popular ‘in-play’ options are not reinstated by the federal government, according to Unibet chief executive, Henrik Tjanstrom.
Mr Tjarnstrom said banning the reputable sites that operate under the Australian jurisdiction only assists the unregulated and unscrupulous bookmakers in gaining a foothold down under.
“The demand is still there and if the regulated operators can’t offer it and there is no strong enforcement against the unregulated operators, the alternative is always one click away and the customers will find it,” he said to Fairfax Media.
The comments from the head of Unibet come in the wake of the Turnbull government’s decision to ban all ‘click to call’ betting options that online bookmakers had utilised over the last 12 months.
In anticipation of the government’s legislation banning the product, the Northern Territory forced the bookmakers it licensed to end the service last month.
Customers had been able to place bets on live events using an automated service, which essentially bypasses the need to talk to an operator, but online bookmakers have been forced to scrap the popular feature.
The move drew the ire of the online bookmakers, which see the system heavily-weighted towards established betting operators with Government contracts.
The online operators are annoyed Tabcorp and Tatts, which plan to merge to create an $11.3 billion wagering giant, can offer in-play betting products in their retail stores.
Unibet’s Australian general manager, Peter Staunton, said the click-to-call product was one of the company’s fastest growing products and had been well-received by customers.
The end of online in-play betting is estimated to cost corporate online bookmakers more than $1.1 million in revenue weekly.
Previous estimates are that there are about 2000 different websites, which are not licensed in Australia, offer an Australian online betting product.
Mr Tjarnstrom said in a consumer-driven market, across-the-board equality is needed if there is to be a level playing field, otherwise customers will take more and more risks in order to bet the way they want.
“In the end, it is the customer that decides,” he said.
“The regulation has to reflect what they want to have, and sooner or later that will happen,” he said.
The Unibet chief said if there were more scope with live betting, that would give online bookmakers more incentive to invest heavily in the market.
“We can really scale. It’s a question of what kind of return we could get for that spend.”
Our take on the heavy regulation of the in-play betting market
THE old adage ‘you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone’ has never been more apt in the online betting realm when talking about the ‘click to call’ feature implemented by the bookmakers.
To say it revolutionised the marketplace would be an understatement.
It allowed customers to not only bet on a myriad of sports hassle-free at any time, but at the same time it also generated interest in lesser known sports, while creating a greater stream of revenue for the bookies – which they purport would have been invested back into the company to further enhance their product.
As always though, the stakeholders who were here first knew they were up against it and dug their feet in to eliminate the in-play threat to their company, but they unwittingly shot themselves in the foot, given the consumer will always look elsewhere rather than settling for the inferior product.
Just like the NSW government’s knee-jerk decision to ban greyhound racing in the state, the federal equivalent needs to show some prudence and find some middle ground on the issue.
In the end, whilst the betting companies forego an incredible amount of revenue whilst the ‘click to call’ ban is in place, it is the customers who truly suffer and they are the ones that will ultimately look elsewhere to unregulated and unsafe bookmakers to fulfil their betting wishes.
Common sense needs to prevail.
Put all the protective measures in place if your earnest intention is to safeguard the consumer; but eliminating one of the most popular methods of betting when unregulated and unscrupulous options remain just a google search away is only cutting your nose off to spite your face.
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