The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has revealed that four leading online gambling brands in the country have breached in-play betting rules, including Ladbrokes and Bet365.

ACMA said operators had breached interactive gambling rules by using “fast/quick codes” to enable in-play betting on sports. The four culprits named by ACMA were Entain-owned Ladbrokes and Neds, and Hillside’s Bet365 and Sportsbet.

Australia’s Interactive Gambling Act 2001 prohibits live betting on sports games with only a few exceptions. This involves placing the bet over the phone, where the player must make an actual phone call to place the bet.

Players must first obtain a Fast/Quick code from an operator’s website or app to place an in-game bet. This code embeds the event, bet selection and bet type of the in-play bet. The player then provides this code when making the call to place the bet.

However, ACMA said this was not the case with Ladbrokes, Bet365, Neds and Sportsbet. The authority said operators’ in-play betting services individually generated codes for each in-play bet when that bet was created through the service’s website or app, at least for the first customer.

According to the ACMA, the betting information in the codes was transmitted to the betting service via the website or app, rather than over the phone as would be required for the betting exception to apply. Therefore, each of the operators was found to have breached the Interactive Gambling Act 2001.

ACMA shied away from enforcement action

However, ACMA noted that the four brands have now taken steps to ensure that the Fast/Quick codes comply with betting rules. According to the ACMA, this promotion means that codes will be generated before events begin, regardless of whether a customer selects this bet. The codes are generic and the same for all customers.

In light of this, ACMA has decided not to take any further enforcement action against the four brands at this time.

“We investigate anyone who violates the rules governing online gambling services,” ACMA said. “This also includes providing or advertising illegal online gambling services.

“Anyone who violates the rules may face criminal charges and/or civil penalties. This includes anyone who helps someone break the rules.”

More illegal websites blocked in Australia

The announcement comes as ACMA also issued banning orders against 11 illegal gambling websites this week.

ACMA called on Australian internet service providers to block access to the mix of online gambling and affiliate marketing websites.

ACMA tagged Greenspin, Slotman, Jeetcity, Betibet, Candyland Casino, Thunderpick, Golden Lion, Digits 7, Sector 777, New Vegas and PayID Pokies. It said that any website violated the Interactive Gambling Act 2001.

Since ACMA made its first application in November 2019, around 893 illegal gambling and affiliate websites have been blocked. Additionally, 220 illegal services have left Australia since the agency began enforcing new rules on illegal offshore gambling in 2017.