The corporate regulator has stopped Sportsbet from offering bets over the performance of the S&P/ASX 200, with the betting agency claiming it had challenges with staff working remotely.
On 1 April, Sportsbet allowed punters to bet on whether the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) would close higher or lower from opening, bet on the final digit of the closing price, or whether the close price would be an odd number or an even number.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) announced it had intervened with the betting agency following concerns that the bets constituted a financial product that Sportsbet was not licensed to offer, and the product was consequently withdrawn.
Sportsbet told ASIC it had challenges in implementing its control framework in the current environment as many staff were working remotely.
“Firms need to ensure continued compliance with their regulatory obligations in the COVID-19 context, assessing the effectiveness of their business continuity plans and alternative working arrangements so as to comply with all regulatory requirements,” ASIC said.
“It is important to maintain robust monitoring and supervision controls to ensure financial services are provided efficiently, honestly and fairly.”
ASIC noted that the control frameworks of some firms that were effective when most staff were office-based might not be effective in a broadly home-based environment.
At the time the betting agency launched the product, Sportsbet’s spokesperson, Rich Hummerston said: “Well, they’ve always said the stockmarket is just gambling, and now, it literally is. And during these times, our markets are probably safer than the actual stockmarket”.