Sportsbet Fined in Court over Gambling Advertisement Breaches

Sportsbet, Australia’s premier bookmaker, has been fined by the Liquor & Gaming NSW gambling regulator as the company has been found in breach of advertising rules, the Canberra Weekly reported, citing a court ruling. The news was reported by other media outlets, who confirmed the findings.

This is not the first time, it seems, Sportsbet has ruffled the regulator’s feathers as previously, the watchdog issued another fine in 2019, accusing and convicting the sportsbook of the same breaches of advertisement.

Last week, the company was fined AU$135,000 (around $99,400) based on the ruling of Downing Center Local Court on November 5, 2021. Commenting on the case, Liquor & Gaming Compliance director Marcel Savary pointedly said that “the message was not getting through to some companies,” and added:

“So far this year Liquor & Gaming NSW have started more than double the number of prosecutions compared to last year with 119 different counts of breaching the provisions brought against 14 operators, up from 31 counts against seven operators in 2020.”

Liquor & Gaming Compliance director Marcel Savary

According to the regulator, Sportsbet has registered some omissions in its targeting model. Between October 2020 and March 2021, Sportsbet emailed account holders “prohibited gambling advertisement.”

If Canberra Weekly is correct, consumers found themselves confused by how the subscription model for promotions worked, and, as a result, they were unable to fully unsubscribe or had received ads after unsubscribing.

Another period of breaches related to prohibited gambling advertisement was covered from November 2 through November 24, 2020, and found out that there were Treasure Punt campaigns on the company’s social media accounts, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Sportsbet has denied wrongdoing and fought the regulator’s claim that it had breached advertising restrictions.

Online Gambling Continues to Increase in Australia

According to the NSW Office of Responsible Gambling, the current model of advertising in the country does not appeal to 81% of the population.

Those objecting to the current form of advertising argued that aggressive sports ads led to a higher incidence of gambling addiction and harmful behavior. While Savary noted that an overall decline in gambling has been registered, online betting seems to be increasing.

He estimates that 70% of all sports betting and 37% of horse race betting are now done online. Savary assured that the regulator is concerned about those developments and it had the tools necessary to continue monitoring the situation as well as act and recommend legislative measures where possible.

In September, we reported that there has been growing disagreement over the advertisement practices adopted by some operators, including Sportsbet’s. Sportsbet has made at least several attempts this year to boost its responsible gambling practices, not least the launch of a new campaign in August.

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