The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has cleared Sportsbet, the largest online sportsbook in Australia, of any wrongdoing after concerns were raised that the operator had breached the country’s ban on in-play betting.
An ACMA investigation found Sportsbet was not contravening the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (the IGA) when it offered a live betting market during the Brownlow Medal count. The Brownlow Medal is awarded to the best and fairest player in the Australian Football League (AFL) season, and is determined by the votes awarded by umpires at the end of each match based on the individual performance of players
Customers of Sportsbet, which is owned by Flutter Entertainment, were able to bet on the award during the medal-count live broadcast on 18 September, wagering on the player they thought would win the medal for the best or fairest player. ACMA flagged the case, as the betting was taking place on an event that was live, which is not permitted under current rules set out in the IGA.
Potential breaches included subsection 15(2A), which prohibits offering an online in-play sports betting service in Australia; as well as subsection 61DA(1A) and 61DA(3), which cover designated interactive gambling service advertising.
ACMA then launched an investigation into whether Sportsbet had breached the in-play betting prohibition. While the watchdog found that the Brownlow medal count relates to the performance of players in sporting events, the televised presentation is not a sporting event itself, nor is the outcome of the count a contingency that happens in the course of a sporting event. Therefore, providing a betting market is “not an in-play betting service under the IGA.”
Given this finding, ACMA also ruled Sportsbet did not contravene advertising prohibitions set out in the IGA by authorizing the broadcast of betting markets during the Brownlow medal count.
The ACMA also looked at betting markets on the Norm Smith Medal (AFL) and Clive Churchill Medal (National Rugby League). As with the Brownlow Medal count, the ACMA did not consider the betting markets on the outcome of these awards, which are based on the performance of players during an individual match, to be in-play betting services under the IGA.