Packer pushing for in-game betting in Australia
By staff
The Australian federal government is reviewing its interactive gambling regulations, and media magnate and online casino proprietor Kerry Packer has used the opportunity to call for in-game betting to be allowed.

As the law stands, 'in-game' bets – bets made while an event is in progress - can be made only over the phone or at a TAB retail outlet. In its submission to the review, PBL (the Packer family company) argues that the existing ban on in-play betting via TV could limit the interactive services Australian companies are allowed to provide to viewers.

Naturally, Packer has a vested interest in interactive betting. His Channel Nine free-to-air station has been broadcasting both an analog and digital signal since 2001. He also owns a quarter share of pay TV company Foxtel, which will convert to digital transmission at the start of next year.

If Packer gets his way, games like Cricket (an Australian favourite) would be ideal vehicles for in-game betting on digital TV. Bets could be made on which batsman will be out next, or which bowler will take the next wicket. Viewers would use their interactive TV remote control to place the bet.

Two years Packer camp lobbied against the Government's proposal to ban local companies from offering online gaming to Australians. The Government didn’t change its mind and Packer was forced to base his Internet casino in Vanuatu to escape the ban.

PBL has now shifted the focus of its lobbying on interactive gambling laws from the Internet to digital TV, a market that some thing will eventually dwarf PC based Internet gambling.

PBL hopes to match the success of Sky Interactive in Britain, which claims 40%of bets placed on live English Premier League soccer games are placed during games.

'Given the experience in the UK, to encourage the take-up of digital services in Australia, it is necessary to amend the act to permit an expansion of wagering services able to be provided by a television service,' PBL argues in its submission.

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