GVC's Ladbrokes Australia hit with record NSW fine

14 February 2020

The New South Wales (NSW) Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority has convicted Ladbrokes Australia and Neds of illegal gambling marketing activities in the Australian state, issuing the two operators with a record fine of AUD$207,500 (£107,021/€128,660/US$139,526), the highest ever levied in the state.

According to Liquor & Gaming NSW, the GVC-owned brands breached regulations by running inducements to gamble to NSW residents. Operators that do not adhere to the rules face fines of up to $110,000, while company directors can also be criminally prosecuted.

A Liquor & Gaming NSW investigation found that Ladbrokes and Neds ran a number of adverts across television channels and social media in the state. The Downing Centre Local Court heard that four Ladbrokes adverts and two Neds ads featured across Channel 7, Instagram and Facebook in 2018.

The adverts in question offered bonus bets for a smaller deposit, such as a deal that stated: “Deposit $50, get $250 in bonus bets”. The bonus offers were only available to people who opened new betting accounts with Ladbrokes or Neds.

The NSW Betting and Racing Act states that it is an offence to publish a gambling advert that includes an inducement to play or participate frequently in any form of gambling activity. As such, the Downing Centre Local Court ruled that the brands had breach state law and should be fined.

“Inducements are known to increase the risk of gambling harm and these advertisements reached a broad segment of the population,” Liquor & Gaming NSW assistant director of compliance Dimitri Argeres said. “In NSW such advertisements are restricted to registered betting account holders.

“This record fine should serve as a reminder that betting operators have an obligation to ensure their gambling advertising complies with NSW laws. Penalties of this magnitude are not easily absorbed into running costs.”

Ladbrokes and Neds have the right to appeal against the fine.

Last month, Liquor & Gaming NSW also issued bans and fines to two gaming machine industry licence-holders for their roles in a gaming machine rebirthing racket in the Australian state. Gaming machine technician Riad Allam and gaming machine seller Justin Layden were ordered to pay combined fines and legal costs amounting to AUD$100,000.

Late last year, the NSW Office of Responsible Gambling also set out details of a new funding opportunity for PhD scholarships, post-doctoral fellowships and study grants to build capability and capacity in gambling research.