Sportsbet blames WFH for ASX betting blue


Sportsbet has blamed its ill-fated foray into stock market betting on the need to have staff to work remotely during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Melbourne-based betting agency grabbed the attention of ASIC when it began offering bets over the S&P/ASX 200 Index, with concerns that the bets constituted a financial product Sportsbet was not licensed to offer.

This product was withdrawn by Sportsbet, but ASIC on Thursday announced the company had identified challenges in implementing its control framework in the current environment, with many staff working remotely.

ASIC said firms need to ensure continued compliance with their regulatory obligations during the coronavirus.

It said firms should assess the effectiveness of their business continuity plans and alternative working arrangements so as to comply with all regulatory requirements.

ASIC also said it was important to maintain robust monitoring and supervision controls to ensure financial services are provided efficiently, honestly and fairly.

The regulator has observed that control frameworks of some firms that were effective under normal circumstances may not be effective under a broadly home-based environment.

Sportsbet in a statement on Thursday said it acknowledged the concerns raised by ASIC regarding “certain ASX 200 betting markets being offered over a five-day period”.

“While these markets had received separately regulatory approval for betting purposes, we respect the position of the ASIC and immediately withdrew the markets, and will not be offering them in the future,” it said.

Other firms have turned their attention to economic data amid a dearth of sports activity due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Last week TabCorp published odds on whether interest rates would be reduced at the Reserve Bank’s April board meeting.

The company said one punter had put a $20,000 bet at $3.00 for the rate to be reduced from a record low 0.25 per cent.

The RBA board left the rate unchanged.

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