Sportsbet Made to Refund Customer AU$93,000 After Self-Exclusion Failings

  • Customer, known as Mr XXXX, was able to place bets despite self-exclusion
  • Sportsbet did not cross-check his details
  • Bets worth AU$150k deemed “not lawful” by the Northern Territory Racing Commission
  • National self-exclusion scheme for Australia is still a year away
Man sad after losing money at electronic gambling machine
The Northern Territory Racing Commission has ordered Sportsbet to refund an Australian customer AU$93,000 after allowing him to gamble while he was self-excluded. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Details weren’t properly checked

Online betting company Sportsbet will pay back tens of thousands of Australian dollars after a customer managed to bet large amounts of money despite enrolling in a self-exclusion list.

In a decision made last week, the Northern Territory Racing Commission ruled that Sportsbet had not properly cross-checked the man’s details. It has since ordered the company to refund him AU$93,082.04 (US$64,490.96). The sum takes into account the money spent less personal withdrawals.

Able to bet almost $150,000

The customer, known as Mr XXXX, had previously put himself on a self-exclusion register but later went on to create a new account with the company. He was then able to wager almost AU$150,000 (US$103,926) with Sportsbet.

In a statement, Mr XXXX remarked:

Once you are in their system, it’s really difficult to get out. I can’t explain how bad it was.”

He added that his gambling problem occurred over a significant period of time, taking both a financial and mental toll. Mr XXXX said he has not gambled for the past three years and hoped better regulations to protect gamblers would now be established.

Bets found not to be lawful

In its ruling, the Commission established that the bets were not lawful, as Sportsbet had “failed to comply” with its licensing conditions. Because of this, the verdict was delivered in favor of the customer and ordered Sportsbet to refund any losses.

There’s no fine, there’s no deterrent effect being sent to the industry.”

Lauren Levin, an advocate with Financial Counselling Australia, believes that a refund is not enough. She supported the customer throughout the case, saying afterward: “From the perspective of regulation, it doesn’t go far enough. There’s no fine, there’s no deterrent effect being sent to the industry.”

National scheme still 12 months away

While the Federal Government is continuing with its plans for a national self-exclusion scheme, it is not likely to be active for another year. Without it, cases involving self-exclusion can be long and drawn out. The Sportsbet verdict culminated after two-and-a-half years of investigation.

In its statement, Sportsbet informed that it had accepted the commission’s findings and would promptly refund the customer. It explained that the complaint was a rare case and that it had revised its internal procedures since the case was first identified, adding that non-customers are now able to self-exclude.

The company added: “Sportsbet will continue to work closely with government and industry to design and implement the National Self-Exclusion Register in 2021 to ensure that those experiencing gambling harm can simply exclude themselves from all licensed services and platforms.”