The Liquor and Gaming New South Wales has issued a penalty to Rob Waterhouse over a socially irresponsible gambling advertisement. Australia has a very strict code of conduct when it comes to most forms of gambling promotion. Over the past months, we have heard about numerous instances of respectable brands coming head-to-head with local regulators over advertisement failures.
Now, Waterhouse has received an AU$4,500 ($3,200) fine related to a Twitter post for the namesake brand (RobWaterhouse.com) advertising the gambling website. The offense dates back to 2020 when Waterhouse talked about “five daily boosts promotion,” which the regulator took an issue with.
The penalty is issued under the Betting and Racing Act 1998, which sets tight control over gambling ads, and essentially prohibits most of them. The maximum penalty that may be issued under the Act is AU$11,000 ($7,860).
According to the regulator’s ruling, Waterhouse had published an inducement to gambling, citing an opportunity to boost consumers’ odds for specific betting contests “up to five times a day.”
A Fair Warning to Best Consumer Protection Practices
Commenting on this case, Liquor and Gaming NSW executive director, investigation and enforcement, Valerie Griswold, explained that people who are susceptible to gambling addiction or have been struggling to keep their condition under control would have found it hard to resist the ad. Griswold acknowledged that competition in the industry was intensifying:
“There’s a lot of competition for business at the moment, particularly in the online market, which has doubled in size as other traditional forms of gambling have contracted.”Liquor and Gaming NSW executive director, investigation and enforcement, Valerie Griswold
Griswold said that in light of this increased competition, it remained important for businesses to advertise in a manner that didn’t promote “gambling harms in the process.”
Rob Waterhouse is a new player in the sports betting space (even though the man behind the business is often referred to as the “best-known bookmaker in the country), and while the ad may be a bit of a faux pas, it doesn’t seem like it’s an orchestrated effort to incentivize vulnerable consumers into playing.
Australia is also dealing with increased interest in online sports betting operations, as the majority of the country’s bookmakers are now shifting their model online, with some still needing to catch up on what is allowed and what isn’t.
The good news is that Australia has hardly had to issue any suspensions or stiff penalties, although slot machine parlors in the country still remain a weak link, with criminals reportedly laundering hundreds of millions of dollars there.