Lottoland wins NSW Supreme Court ruling against ACMA

16 August 2019

Lottoland has won a major court battle against the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), as the Supreme Court of New South Wales ruled the company’s jackpot betting products are fully compliant with Australian law.

The jackpot betting product takes specific numbers from financial markets at certain times of the day, arranges them into a long number and converts this into a winning number for a lottery draw. The game was introduced after a new law came into effect in January which outlawed lottery betting games.

However, in June the ACMA ruled that the jackpot betting products constituted a game of chance, which are prohibited under Australia's 2001 Interactive Gambling Act (IGA), rather than a form of betting, prompting a legal challenge from the operator.

The presiding judge, Justice John Sackar, said the case came down to whether jackpot betting involved placing bets, and whether the draws on which the bets were being placed could be considered games.

While he said the customer's stake did constitute a bet, he did not believe the draw could be considered a game.

Sackar explained that a “game” should involve some form of customer participation, but that jackpot betting contained few elements of the sort that he believed fell under the remit of the IGA.

“A game must, in my view, be more than the simple process by which a person parts with his/her money with a chance of financial return,” he said. “To play a game, further indicates to me, a sense of positive action on the part of the participant. There must be a level of interaction in the sense that a participant’s actions to some extent affect the outcome of the activity.

"Here there is no participation in the sense that the ongoing actions of the participant can influence the outcome," the judge continued. "There is little to no interaction in the sense that nothing that the customer may do will affect the ultimate Winning Result ID."

He added that in order to be considered illegal, the definition of game under the Act would have to be expanded to the point that it became "virtually meaningless".

"Any ‘activity’ with ‘rules’ and some limited participation, could effectively capture any sort of bet, wager or gambling as a ‘game’, thus removing any meaningful distinction between the terms.”

Lottoland Australia chief executive Luke Brill celebrated the ruling, describing the ACMA's stance on jackpot betting as "wrong, unfair and uncompetitive".

"[Today] I am pleased to say that we have been vindicated," Brill added. “With this matter now settled, Lottoland Australia can finally get on with what it does best - providing new and exciting products that Australian punters love.”

The case marks a significant victory for the operator, which has been the focus of efforts to force it from the market by retailer associations and rival operators in recent years.