A local court in Sydney convicted and fined the country’s largest online sports betting operator Sportsbet for breaching the prohibition on offering inducements to gamble after a full-page ad from the company appeared in the Daily Telegraph in June last year.
Inducements to Gamble Prohibition Breach
Flutter-owned Sportsbet was ordered last Monday by Magistrate Megan Greenwood from Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney to pay AU$22,000 for promoting inducements to bet on horse racing in breach of gambling advertising laws in New South Wales (NSW).
The ad published on June 13, 2020, which promoted “$50 back in bonus bets” for every bet on a horse that finishes second or third during the weekend races, attracted interest from the state’s gambling watchdog. The gambling inducement breach was a second offense for Sportsbet after the operator was convicted and fined AU$10,000 in 2019.
Sportsbet pleaded guilty in court and explained the breach with a human error which misplaced an advertisement meant for Melbourne’s Herald Sun and sent it to the newspaper in Sydney, a claim the court was unable to test, but Magistrate Greenwood justified the financial sanction with the fact that the failure was repeated meaning Sportbet had not learned their lesson.
The size of the fine for a gambling group like Flutter Entertainment which posted £5.2 billion in revenue for the full 2020 £3 billion of which generated from sports betting, raised concerns among anti-gambling campaigners and proponents for a total ban on gambling advertising.
Tim Costello, chief advocate for Alliance for Gambling Reform (AGR), noted the fine was just a drop in the ocean, and gambling companies simply calculate such amounts as operating expenses. Instead, Costello believes gambling ads should be outright banned due to their detrimental impact on young people.
“Research shows three in four Aussie kids view gambling as a normal part of sport – that’s an absolute travesty.”Tim Costello, Chief Advocate, Alliance for Gambling Reform
Sportsbet became the latest in a long list of bookmakers convicted for breaching gambling advertising laws in NSW since 2015 as the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) had so far successfully prosecuted 25 sports betting operators and third-party betting platforms, having collected AU$324,450 in sanctions and AU$249,626 in costs.
The largest fine, AU$207,500, was dished to Entain-owned Ladbrokes in February 2020 for inducement via TV and social media ads, but after the appeal, the sanction was reduced to AU$159,000 and the operator also had to pay AU$31,500 in costs.