Unibet Fined in New South Wales for Violating Gambling Advertising Rules
Unibet’s Australian business was slapped with a A$25,000 fine in New South Wales over advertising materials that violated the NSW Betting and Racing Act.
The penalty was handed down on Monday, December 15, in Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court.
Malta-headquartered online gambling operator Kindred Group entered Australia’s sports betting market in 2012. Back then, the company operated as Unibet Group.
Unibet secured its entry into the lucrative Australian wagering marketplace through the acquisition of local independent online bookmaker Betchoice. At the time, Betchoice provided betting on various sports and horse races through a license from the Northern Territory and the Betchoice.com website.
Unibet’s recent fine in NSW stemmed from two separate promotions that were found to have breached state gambling laws. The Downing Centre Local Court issued the five-figure fine after an investigation of Liquor & Gaming NSW.
The first of the two adverts appeared on The Canberra Times’ website in November 2018. It read “Deposit $20, Bet with $100.” The second promotion featured on Unibet’s Australian website this past February and said “Earn $50 CASH For Each Friend You Refer!”
Both adverts offered inducements to bettors to participate in a gambling activity, but promotions of this type are prohibited under the NSW Betting and Racing Act.
Inducements “Increase the Risk of Gambling Harm”, Regulator Says
Under NSW gambling advertising rules, the publication of a gambling advert that “includes any inducement to participate, or participate frequently, in any gambling activity (including an inducement to open a betting account)” is considered an offense.
Such promotions can only be offered to holders of betting accounts with licensed betting operators. In Unibet’s case, the contested two promotions could be seen by anyone who visited the operator’s website without being required to log into their betting account, or The Canberra Times’ website.
Sean Goodchild, Director of Compliance Operations at Liquor & Gaming NSW, said this week that the two adverts had clearly offered inducements to engage in a gambling activity or to open an account with Unibet.
The gambling regulator noted that betting operators are obligated to make sure that all their advertising campaigns that are carried out on the territory of New South Wales are fully compliant with state regulations.
Mr. Goodchild also noted that “inducements are known to increase the risk of gambling harm so any breaches are taken seriously.”
Under recently implemented gambling advertising laws, operators found guilty of offering inducements face fines of up to A$110,000 per violation. In addition, company officials can be individually and criminally liable.
News about Unibet’s fine in NSW came shortly after it emerged that the company has withdrawn its appeal of a six-figure fine it was imposed by the Dutch gambling regulator, Kansspelautoriteit, over the summer. The gambling watchdog fined the operator €470,000 for targeting Dutch customers without being authorized to do so.
Source: Betchoice punished for offering gambling inducements, Asia Gaming Brief