26 Mar

Online Bookmaker butting heads with RWA

Australia SportsbookSince late last year, Responsible Wagering Australia (RWA) – formed to replace the previously dissolved Australian Wagering Council (AWC) – has been encouraging Australia sportsbook operations to join its cause to reduce the social harms of gambling across the nation. While many major brands have complied, William Hill and its stock pile of online bookmaker sites, have not.

William Hill, which spent $34 million in 2013 to acquire TomWaterhouse.com, along with subsidiaries Sportingbet and Centrebet, clearly wants nothing to do with the RWA.

While that organization is pushing for a ban on credit lines and new player inducements, and a reduction in gambling advertisements during live sports broadcasts, UK-based William Hill is boasting a strong promotional calendar and upping its marketing spend in 2017.

For weeks now, the RWA, led by former Labor minister Stephen Conroy, has been promising the upcoming unveil of a list of concessions designed to reduce social harm. The group, which is backed by online bookmakers Bet365, Betfair, CrownBet, Sportsbet and Unibet, has yet to release that list, but several items are guaranteed to be on it.

Australia Sportsbook Concessions from RWA

The RWA wants to put an end to bookmakers offering credit to punters. They also want to ban “sign-up” promotions that they say induce gamblers to register an account, such as William Hill’s 100% up to $505 match bonus on first-time deposits. RWA is also insistent that advertising for online gambling, especially during live sports broadcasts, needs to be drastically reduced.

William Hill isn’t the only operator that continues to offer promotional inducements to new sign-ups, though. Even Sportsbet.com.au, owned and operated by Irish online bookmaker Paddy Power Betfair – a founding member of the RWA – is dishing up a $75 credit for new punters who deposit just $25.

Increased Ad Spend for Online Bookmaker

Earlier this year, William Hill revealed its intention to increase spending on advertisements for its Australia sportsbook.

The British bookmaker spent $0.26 of every $1.00 generated by Australian customers on marketing in that region last year. A corporate meeting confirmed the company will increase that to $0.28 in 2017 in an effort to gain higher market share.

William Hill, Ladbrokes Won’t Join RWA

When the RWA was first forming in late 2016, William Hill and fellow UK online bookmaker Ladbrokes seemed like they would be on board with the group’s mission to promote a responsible “social license” in the Australia gambling community. Both have since backed off, declining to join the RWA.

There’s been no official word from William Hill, which declined to comment on its “internal position” in regards to the RWA’s push for gambling reform in Australia. However, a spokesman did confirm that the company actively participated in former NSW premier Barry O’Farrell’s 2015 review of illegal offshore gambling, and supported the “development and implementation of an evidence-based responsible gambling framework.”

Similarly, a spokesman for the Australia sportsbook wing of Ladbrokes said that company “respectfully declines the opportunity to comment on this matter at this point in time.”

Considering Australia’s impending implantation of a law that will give offshore operators without a physical presence in the country the right to apply for an operational licence, the fight for market share is only going to increase. William Hill and Ladbrokes were responsible for the disbanding the former AWC, and if things aren’t hammered out soon, it could just as easily happen again.