Sportsbet fined over illegal gaming ad in New South Wales

27 March 2019

Australian online gambling operator Sportsbet has been issued with a fine of Aus$10,000 (£5,350/€6,290/US$7,090) by authorities in New South Wales after being convicted of posting an illegal gambling advertisement on its website.

The prosecution comes as a result of an investigation by Liquor & Gaming NSW into an advert that appeared on the website on July 5, 2018.

The ad featured cartoon images of two males with their thumbs up, accompanied by the text, “Refer a Friend – Get a $100 Bonus Bet for every friend you refer to join (excl. VIC, NSW, WA & SA) Terms and Conditions”.

New South Wales law prohibits gambling ads that offer “any inducement to participate, or participate frequently, in any gambling activity (including an inducement to open a betting account)”.

As ordered by the Magistrate who oversaw the hearing at Downing Centre Local Court on March 7, Paddy Power Betfair-owned Sportsbet will now pay the fine, plus Aus$7,300 in legal costs.

The Magistrate said there was a need for a penalty to act as a general deterrent for all gambling operators and ensure they are vigilant in complying with state laws.

Under new state laws that came into effect last July, operators found guilty of breaching bonus as measures can face fines of up to Aus$55,000, while company directors can be criminally prosecuted. The idea is to close loopholes whereby operators have used fine print exclusion clauses to avoid prosecution.

Liquor & Gaming NSW guidelines specially name bonus bets as advertising that would be considered in breach of state laws. The authority said such bonus bets are “capable of persuading or encouraging a person to participate in gambling activity including to open a betting account”.