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Ladbrokes Australia at Odds With Other Bookies Over Self-Exclusion

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Efforts to deploy a national self-exclusion registry for Australian online bookmakers appear to have slowed almost to a standstill. Well-known international betting site Ladbrokes has expressed its frustration with the way things are proceeding and has called for a new system to be developed within the industry body Responsible Wagering Australia.

Logos of Companies That Are Part of Responsible Wagering AustraliaSome of the Members of Responsible Wagering Australia

About Ladbrokes' Criticisms

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Ladbrokes has criticized current plans for a nationwide self-exclusion program that would allow punters to ban themselves from all online wagering with a single click from any device – desktop, smartphone, or tablet. While the sportsbook operator says it's in favour of such a system, it believes that the current proposal, which involves cooperation between the Australian government, the states, and the industry, is too unwieldy to achieve much success. Ladbrokes General Counsel Patrick Brown elaborated, “The design and implementation of most multi-operator self-exclusion schemes fails due to complexity.”

Ladbrokes instead recommended that the self-exclusion regime already in place in the Northern Territory be replicated across Australia. The firm lauded this aspect of low-cost Northern Territory licensure as a success and wondered why stakeholders feel the need to reinvent the wheel rather than simply expanding a pre-existing arrangement that has been proven to work.

Ulterior Motives at Play?

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Ladbrokes' championing of Northern Territory self-exclusion practices as the answer appears to be somewhat disingenuous. In this territory, a popular licensing jurisdiction for Australian online betting services, people must fill out a form in order to exclude themselves from online gambling. Moreover, they have to complete the paperwork individually for each site that they wish to block themselves from. This is clearly a less robust system than the proposals being thrown around for one-click self-exclusion.

Another area in which Ladbrokes differs with its betting colleagues is in the idea of prohibiting internet gaming sites from providing new customer signup offers and refer-a-friend bonuses. This prohibition has been accepted in principle by government leaders and gambling entities, but Ladbrokes doesn't agree with them.

Ladbrokes is in fourth place in the Australian online sports betting market, behind Sportsbet, TAB and BetEasy. The ban on new client promotions will probably serve to keep the leaders at the top of the heap. Ladbrokes may intend to provide bonuses and/or free bets to new customers and thereby steal customers from the organizations that are currently more popular than it is. Clearly, the already-established top dogs have no incentive to see this happen.

Ladbrokes' Message to Other Bookies

Ladbrokes has called upon its fellow bookmakers Sportsbet and BetEasy to develop multi-operator self-exclusion functionality within the Responsible Wagering Australia group. This would presumably pre-empt or perhaps supplement the National Consumer Protection Framework for which Federal Social Services Minister Dan Tehan is expected to announce a deployment timeline within weeks.

Sources familiar with Responsible Wagering Australia indicate that Ladbrokes has been accused, behind closed doors, of not being on board with the “proactive approach of other member organisations to protect the sustainability of the industry.” Given the fact that it's seen as a kind of bête noire by its rival online gambling entities, the company's appeal to competitors Sportsbet and BetEasy to change the way they're doing things is likely to fall on deaf ears.

Photo of Stephen ConroyResponsible Wagering Australia Executive Director Stephen Conroy

The Executive Director of Responsible Wagering Australia, former Senator Stephen Conroy, stated, “All RWA members are strongly committed to this and currently offer simple to use self-exclusion options at an operator level whilst the federal government is implementing the national self-exclusion register.” Perhaps backpedaling from its more controversial stances a bit, Ladbrokes Australia told iGamingBusiness.com, “Ladbrokes unequivocally supports the National Self Exclusion scheme.”

Better Alternatives Abound

Three Divergent Paths

The internecine squabbling and jockeying for position within Responsible Wagering Australia perhaps illustrate the pitfalls of waiting on governments, trade associations, and individual corporations to come to agreements. Any decisions made as a result of such compromise and political horse-trading seem unlikely to be the most efficient or customer-friendly of the available options.

Fortunately, it's still possible to bet at offshore internet bookies, which avoid such cumbersome negotiations and manoeuvres. Instead, they each try to deliver what their users want without needing to form bloated combinations and associations among themselves. There's no legal penalty for opting to utilize the services of one of these international betting shops. The entire risk of prosecution falls on those running the websites, not individual customers.

You can bet on sports, try your hand at casino games, and play peer-to-peer poker at Bodog88. Click on our Bodog88 registration link to open up your new account. For more online gambling sites that cater to Aussies, particularly those who enjoy poker, read our Australian online poker guide.