- Australian operator Sportsbet convicted of displaying illegal gambling advertisements
- Regulator Liquor & Gaming NSW investigated
- Sportsbet has been fined A$12,260
One of Australia’s largest and most well-known online betting providers in Australia, Sportsbet, has been penalized for an illegal advert by the state regulator, Liquor & Gaming NSW.
Sportsbet, based in the state of New South Wales (NSW), has been convicted and fined for “illegally offering enticements to its customers to lure their friends into opening online gambling accounts with Sportsbet.”
Sportsbet fined A$12,260
Liquor & Gaming NSW conducted an investigation into the advertisement, which was hosted on the Sportsbet.com.au website on 5 July 2018. As a result, Paddy Power Betfair’s Australian sportsbook brand Sportsbet has been issued with a A$7090 fine by authorities for posting an illegal online gambling advertisement in NSW.
Sportsbet will also have to fork out $5,170 in legal costs, as ordered by NSW magistrates.
“Refer a friend” advert
The advert in question included not humans, but cartoon characters engaging in a “thumbs up” with each other. The text read: “Refer a friend – get a $100 bonus bet for every friend you refer to join sportsbet.com.au (excl. VIC, NSW, WA & SA) terms and conditions.”
Liquor & Gaming NSW’s guidelines regarding bonus bet offers clearly state that bonus bet offers would be categorized as illegal enticements, regardless of whether a disclaimer accompanies them or not.
Thus, according to Liquor & Gaming NSW, the advertisement published was deemed in offence to the current rules.
New law closes loopholes
A new law came into effect in July last year. Gambling operators found guilty of promoting inducements to gamble face a fine of up to $39,000 per offence. Company directors can be criminally prosecuted.
The law aims to close loopholes whereby operators have used fine print exclusion clauses to avoid prosecution. The new fine is hoped to act as a general deterrent for all gambling operators.
The magistrate in the case said: “There was a need for a penalty to act as a deterrent for all gambling operators to ensure that they are compliant with state laws”.
They also noted that “the New South Wales parliament has increased penalties for illegal gambling advertising, and this has raised the need for general deterrence.”
The investigation was carried out by Liquor & Gaming NSW, a division within the department of industry. Its remit is to oversee the development, implementation and integrity of the overall regulatory framework with regard to alcohol and gaming across New South Wales.
The state law prevents operators from creating advertisements that display “any inducement to participate, or participate frequently, in any gambling activity (including an inducement to open a betting account).”
Liquor & Gaming NSW stated that in this case such bonus bets were “capable of persuading or encouraging a person to participate in gambling activity, including opening a betting account.”
Sportsbet pleaded guilty
The company pleaded guilty to all accusations. After the local court announced its ruling, a spokesman for the Australian bookmaker issued a statement.
They said: “Despite the company’s long-standing record of compliance with gambling regulation and gambling advertising laws in the country, it accepts the court’s decision and acknowledges that it failed to meet the required standard.”
Sportsbet further noted that the court had recognized that the one “legacy advertisement” had been unintentional.