Just this month, a new lobbying group was formed called Responsible Wagering Australia. With several major bookmakers on their side, the RWA’s aim is to convince government officials to enforce stricter regulations for online betting in Australia. The first item on the agenda, the group is pushing hard for a prohibition against ‘free bet‘ promotions.
The RWA has voiced its position that a nation-wide ban on free bets at interactive wagering sites should be immediately enacted. Oddly enough, some of the group’s own supporters, like Bet365, are the same companies who’ve violated existing laws revolving around welcome bonuses and other promotional bonus offers.
Still, teaming up with a major lobbying body geared towards panegyrizing the industry could be seen as a positive move for operators of online betting in Australia. And with the priority being to develop a clear, uniform code of conduct for all, losing the ability to provide free bet promotions won’t hurt any brands, so long as all competitors are required follow that same code.
The RWA’s newly appointed Executive Director, Stephen Conroy, a former Labor Senator who elected for early retirement in September, explained the group’s position to The Sunday Mail:
“A national ban is in the long-term interests of consumers, operators and regulators, and would further strengthen harm-minimisation efforts in the sector.
“A ban that applies right across Australia is the only way to ensure that an appropriate level of consumer protection is offered, regardless of where an individual lives.”
No Free Bet Promotions Good For Business?
According to reports, consumers are currently swamped by television and radio advertisements for bookmaker services once every 70 seconds. No doubt, these company’s are paying exorbitant marketing costs.
Research has indicated that Australian bookmakers like Bet365, Betfair, CrownBet, Sportsbet and Unibet – all members of RWA – saw marketing expenses in Queensland alone increase 36% in 2016 leading up to September. They blame a lack of strict regulations, compared to other states, for the rising costs.
If the government sets forth a strong code of conduct prohibiting certain types of ads, it could actually benefit operators by reducing the need to compete so heavily, thereby reducing marketing expenses by default.
First Step In A Long Process
For that to work, however, the RWA will also need the government to move forward with a proposed amendment to Australia’s gambling laws that would eliminate competition from unregulated, overseas operators.
That amendment has already harvested a great deal of support in parliament, and would require international agencies to acquire a licence to conduct online betting in Australia.
The majority of operators who currently access the market without a licence rely heavily on additional services like online casinos and poker, which are illegal here, to draw Aussies to their websites. As such, obtaining a licence would prevent them from supplying anything but sports betting, horse racing and other legal gambling services.
In essence, the Australian market wouldn’t look nearly so appealing, causing the majority of offshore operators to simply exit the territory.
Those gambling sites are also able to provide free bet promotions and other bonuses that Australian operators cannot, or soon will not, be able to provide. Thus, removing their presence from the list of competitors is imperative to boost the popularity of regulated online betting in Australia.