Legal & Regulatory News

William Hill Australia will be able to continue offering customers live betting during sporting events after the country’s Federal Police (AFP) confirmed that it would not investigate complaints about the product.

The operator was accused by the Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA) of being in breach of Australia’s 2011 Interactive Gambling Act by offering products that circumvented the ban on live betting.

As the authority cannot launch a private prosecution it passed its complaints to the AFP, hoping to have the company blocked from offering such products and possibly prosecuted.

The Interactive Gambling Act states that no in-game bets can be placed unless it is done in person or over the telephone. Originally called Click to Call, William Hill’s In-Play product circumvents the in-play ban by allowing bettors to confirm their bets using voice commands.

Along with similar products from bet365 and Ladbrokes, Click to Call has attracted the ire of Australian politicians and the ACMA. The operators have always insisted that their services are entirely legal, although the ACMA’s complaints did prompt Ladbrokes to suspend its product.

William Hill said that as one of the largest betting companies in the world it takes compliance and regulatory requirements “extremely seriously.” The operator said that throughout the development and before launching In-Play, it took steps to ensure it was a telephone betting service that is “100 per cent legal and compliant” with Australian legislation.

The AFP’s decision has been hailed by William Hill chief executive James Henderson.

“William Hill Australia launched this innovative in-play product to meet the demands of Australian sports betting customers,” said Henderson. “Obviously, I'm pleased that the AFP have decided not to progress an investigation of our product, which means William Hill Australia can continue to provide our customers with a differentiated product offering in what is a key market for the group.”

William Hill Australia CEO Tom Waterhouse added that the police decision was a great outcome for Australian bettors, who would no longer be forced to place in-play bets via illegal offshore bookmakers, which he said “pose a huge threat to both consumer protection and the integrity of Australian sport.”