Entain, bet365, and Sportsbet have breached Australia’s in-play betting regulations, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has ruled.

Australia’s Interactive Gambling Act prohibits in-play betting on sports matches with only a few exceptions, including when betting over the phone. 

However, this exception mandates that all information regarding the bet selection, type, amount, and confirmation must be relayed by the customer solely through the phone call.

An ACMA investigation between September 2022 and September 2023 found that this was not the case at Entain-owned brands Ladbrokes and Neds, as well as at bet365 and Sportsbet. 

The issue with fast codes

Via the investigation, the operators above were found to have utilised fast/quick codes to facilitate in-play betting.

The codes were generated when customers constructed an in-play wager via the operators’ websites or apps, encapsulating details like the event, bet selection, and type. 

When customers called in to place their bets, they quoted the codes along with the bet amount and confirmed the bet.

The ACMA ruled that the customers’ selection of in-play betting events online violated the regulation that specifically requires the exclusive communication of betting details via phone.

Systems changed

In response to the ACMA investigation, the operators restructured their systems to align with the stipulated gambling rules. 

Fast/quick codes will now be generated before sporting events start, and will be unrelated to specific customer bets.

Instead, the codes will be generic and the same for all customers. 

In view of the steps taken, the ACMA has decided not to take any further enforcement action at this time.

However, this incident isn’t the first time operators have been flagged for breaching Australia’s in-play betting rules. 

In April, the watchdog imposed a A$13,320 infringement notice on Entain for accepting illegal online in-play bets during the Bangkok LIV Golf tournament in October 2022.

The Super Bowl is expected to bring in $1.06bn in betting handle, according to research firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming (EKG).

The Super Bowl, the annual championship game of the National Football League (NFL), which is taking place next Sunday (13 February), is the largest betting event for the US sports betting industry.

It accounts for nearly 1% of the total annual handle of the industry.

EKG projected that Nevada will have the largest share of the nationwide Super Bowl betting handle, estimated at 15%. New York is expected to have the second-largest share of handle at 11%.

Pennsylvania, home of the Philadelphia Eagles who are competing in the showpiece, is likely to come next at 9%, while Kansas, home of their opponents the Kansas City Chiefs, is predicted to make up 4.4%.

Customer acquisition opportunity

EKG said it did not project revenue given the inherent volatility of the match.

Moreover, the firm highlighted that the Super Bowl is primarily a customer acquisition opportunity for sports betting operators.

The research firm stated that “making money is not necessarily the core aim of the game” and that the “Super Bowl is mainly an opportunity to acquire casual customers who can be cross-sold or reactivated next NFL season”.

EKG predicted that between 10% and 15% of Super Bowl online handle would be wagered in-play.

The firm noted that the low in-play betting mark is due to the high number of recreational customers who prefer pre-match betting, particularly during the Super Bowl.

Same game parlays

Additionally, the research firm predicted that 15-20% of the handle would be placed through same game parlays.

It is believed that the percentage may be closer to 25% at FanDuel and slightly lower at DraftKings.

However, EKG said the estimate for same game parlays during the Super Bowl is lower compared to a typical NFL weekend.

This is due to the expected heavy bets on core markets and the lack of other games to wager parlays on.

Online betting activity skyrocketed in the US at the start of the new NFL season due to the growing number of legal betting options.

Flutter Entertainment-owned Sportsbet is reportedly the subject of a new in-play betting investigation launched by the Australian communications and media authority (ACMA).

Live in-play sports betting is officially banned in Australia, along with online casino, but it has been alleged that some bookies still offer the service via telephone betting.

Sportsbet is understood to be one of those companies and is now under increased scrutiny from the ACMA, according to the Australian Financial Review.

According to the newspaper, Sportsbet asks customers who want to make in-play wagers to generate a so-called “fast code” – an alphanumeric shortcut with the details of the bet – via the click of a button.

Then, when customers call the company to place the bet, they are asked to confirm their identity and cite the fast code. This workaround means the bets are technically made through telephone betting, and not online, therefore outmanoeuvring the online ban.

The use of these codes is at the centre of a new ACMA investigation, having been on the regulator’s radar for more than a year.

A Sportsbet spokesperson told the AFR: “Sportsbet, like most other operators, uses shorthand codes for telephone betting.

“We are confident this is compliant and have co-operated fully with ACMA’s requests for information.”

The news comes at the end of a difficult year for Sportsbet. The brand was on the receiving end of a A$3.7m financial punishment in February for a marketing breach that saw customers bombarded with spam emails and text messages.

Last month, meanwhile, Australia’s financial crimes regulator (AUSTRAC) launched an investigation into Sportsbet and rival operator bet365 over suspicions that both companies have failed to comply with the country’s anti-money laundering and terrorist financing rules.

Sportsbet – which is widely considered the Australian market leader – reported a 21% annual decline in revenue for Flutter Entertainment during Q3 2022.