One of the largest and most popular online betting provider, Sportsbet, has faced a conviction and suffered a monetary fine for illegally offering enticements to its customers to lure their friends into opening gambling accounts with the brand.
Sportsbet which operates as the Australian unit of the international gambling giant Paddy Power Betfair, has joined a number of other sports betting businesses that have faced sanctions for violating the ban which the New South Wales (NSW) Government had imposed on advertisements which are set to push people to gamble by targeting them with attractive offers.
The case was launched by the Liquor & Gaming NSW, the gambling watchdog of the state, after an investigation into an advert published on the sportsbet.com.au website on July 5th, 2018 was carried out. As a result, the gambling operator suffered an AU$10,000 fine and was ordered to pay legal costs of over AU$7,300 for breaching state gaming laws.
The ad which led to the sanction displayed an animated image of two male characters with their thumbs up, with the text prompting players to refer a friend, promising an AU$100 bonus for every referral they took to sportsbet.com.au. According to the state’s gambling regulatory body, the advertisement was published as an offence to the rules prohibiting the use of gambling ads which contain inducements to participate in gambling activities, including enticements to open a betting account.
As explained by the Liquor & Gaming NSW, its guidelines regarding bonus bet offers stated clearly enough that bonus bet offers would be categorised as illegal enticements, regardless of whether a disclaimer accompanies them or not.
Sportsbet Pleads Guilty Despite Long-Standing Compliance with Gambling Regulation
According to Magistrate Jacqueline Trad, proper protection needed to be provided to local communities, so the conviction against the gambling operator was appropriate.
She highlighted the fact that the NSW Government had enhanced sanctions for illegal gambling advertising. Under the new gambling advertising rules which were deployed in July 29018, gambling companies that are proven guilty of offering enticements to encourage players to gamble face monetary fines amounting to up to AU$55,000, with a possibility of criminal prosecution for the company’s directors. The new pieces of legislation were aimed at closing some loopholes which gave gambling companies the chance to avoid prosecution by using fine print-exclusion clauses.
Sportsbet had pleaded guilty to the accusations. After the Downing Centre Local Court announced its ruling, a spokesman for the Australian bookmaker issued a statement saying that 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.
Apart from that, the sports betting brand further noted that the court had recognised that the one “legacy advertisement” had been unintentional.
This is not the first time when online gambling companies face prosecution and monetary penalties for violating NSW gambling advertising rules. In 2018, the online bookmaker Neds faced a number of charges and was penalised for using advertising gambling inducements.