Australia Creates Sports Betting Integrity Unit

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30-second summary:

  • A new sports betting integrity unit is being formed to help curb issues in the space
  • It will regulate the sector, investigate suspicious activity and help organizations with their integrity systems
  • Numerous other measures are in place to help curb problem gambling

Protecting sport integrity

Problem gambling is a serious issue in Australia, with the heaviest gamblers per capita in the world. Australians wager about US$24bn annually. Every adult in the country loses an average US$1,000 per year, far higher than second highest ranking country. That is currently Singapore which has an average loss per adult of about US$650 each year.

About one-third of the adult population of Australia currently gamble online. Financial institutions have implemented a new policy recently to help curb problem gambling by capping credit card payments for gambling platforms.

Australia enjoys a thriving legal market, but the illegal gambling sector is still worth about $1.4bn each year. The regulator is actively taking steps to reduce this and is now planning a crackdown on the sports betting sector.

Details of the integrity unit

The regulator is creating a national watchdog that will look after sports betting. The aim is to cut out cheating and match fixing as much as possible.

Potential candidates are already being touted to head up this new unit. This includes the current CEO of the Australian Sports Anti‑Doping Authority (ASADA), as well as the current racing integrity commissioner for Victoria. The unit is not expected to begin operating until July 2020.

A number of high ranking police officials have expressed their concern at the extent of corruption and crime within the sporting world in Australia. The new commission will be gathering information on all kinds of corruption and potential cases of match fixing.

The unit will also go after any sporting bodies that do not have sufficient levels of integrity in their monitoring systems. The sector as a whole also has a problem with a surfeit of unlicensed online and offline operators offering their services.

This unit will be working closely with various policing agencies in the Australia’s states and on a federal level. It will also have close relationships with ASADA and the department for home affairs.

Three main remits

The three main parts of the sports betting unit’s remit will be to regulate the sports betting space properly, conduct thorough investigations and monitor potential illegal acidity, and work with the sporting leagues to develop integrity policies.

The unit will have the authority to run electronic surveillance on athletes, officials and coaches who are under the suspicion of tampering with the results of games.

Issues for problem gamblers

The current self-exclusion policies for problem gamblers, which are popular with operators, sometimes do not work very effectively. Players can often go to another platform and start playing uninhibited, even though they have self-excluded themselves on other sites.

The new credit card block that certain banks are using allows players to cap the amount of money they can deposit on any type of gambling site. This stops gamblers at the root cause for online issues. ANZ is one of the leaders in this regard.

Other policies being used to help deter problem gamblers include shutting down unlicensed online platforms targeting Australian players and reducing the maximum stake on video lottery terminals and poker machines.

Changes to gambling ads

There is also a push in the country to cut down on the extent of gambling-related advertising. There have been many cases over the years of operators in Australia pushing at and even breaching the boundaries with their advertising campaigns.

The Australian authorities have handed down numerous fines over the years as a result. However, these fines usually pale in comparison to the return in investment the companies get from breaking the advertising rules.

There is a push for a complete ban on gambling advertising, as has been seen in Italy. For now, there is a ban on gambling advertising during live sporting events being shown on Australian television networks.