Crackdown on overseas gambling

Australians will no longer be able to place online bets on sport during play after the federal government closed a loophole used by international bookmakers.

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In-play betting is only allowed over the phone, but some betting companies have mobile phone “click-to-call” apps, which make automated calls that allow punters to place bets on major sports such as cricket and the AFL.

Federal Human Services Minister Alan Tudge said on Thursday the government would not legalise online in-play betting for Australian sites and would move to close loopholes exploited by offshore providers.

He said the federal government would adopt 18 of 19 recommendations of a review of illegal offshore wagering, including banning online betting agencies that offer lines of credit.

The review, undertaken by former NSW premier Barry O’Farrell, found as much as 60 per cent of the $1.6 billion online gambling industry goes offshore to more than 2000 sites beyond the control of Australian regulators.

As part of its crackdown, the government will introduce legislation that will make it illegal for those sites to accept bets from Australian citizens.

Other measures include a national self-exclusion register for gamblers.

“The combination of measures we are proposing we hope will have a demonstrative impact … the tougher laws will seriously disrupt the illegal offshore providers from targeting vulnerable Australians,” Mr Tudge told reporters in Melbourne.

The government will also work with banks and credit card providers to identify ways to stop payments to offshore betting companies.

He said the government would introduce the legislation as quickly as possible despite limited sitting days before the next election.

The government expects the proposed overhaul to bring money spent on offshore betting sites back to Australia and provide better consumer protection.

Independent Senator Nick Xenophon says he’s concerned the ban on “click-to-call” in-play betting will be short term.

Senator Xenophon says in-play betting drives gambling addiction and is a significant problem.

“The concern is this is a short-term solution to get the government through the election,” he said.