Ladbrokes accuses government of favoring incumbents

UK-based bookmaker Ladbrokes has accused the Australian federal government of favoring incumbents Tabcorp and Tatts Group with its decision to ban “click-to-call” systems for live sports.

The Norfolk-Island licensed bookmaker is the first of its peers to stop offering the service in Australia.

Earlier this week, the Northern Territory government sent a letter to its licensees to halt this form of in-play betting, with the hopes the move will prevent “federal interference” in the sector.

“… taking immediate action on this matter may head off future action by the federal government, which may ultimately result in it taking control of regulation of the online wagering industry,” said John McBride, chairman of the NT Racing Commission in the letter.

Ladbrokes’ Australian chief executive Dean Shannon said he had no objections to withdrawing the service, but noted it would be a missed opportunity not to offer the service in Australia.

“They really just made their decision on who lobbied the hardest and the loudest that being Tatts and Tabcorp,” said Shannon, quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald. “If you look at clients who are betting on sports around the world, they’re allowed to bet in-play. And I think in this day and age with people living through their mobiles and online, it makes a lot of sense for people to be able to still bet using the devices they use for everything else.”

Ladbrokes said its Live Play product will be pulled by the end of June, where punters will be in future required to make a phone call to bet on live sports.