- »Australia Finds Self-Exclusion and Ad Law Violations
Australia Finds Self-Exclusion and Ad Law Violations
The Australian government has been taking a tougher look at gambling operators, especially those in the sports betting realm. And lawmakers are not taking violations of the Betting and Racing Act lightly.
PlayUp is an Australian-owned international online bookmaker with its main office located in Sydney.
Revo was the original company, a sports betting technology firm that went into liquidation in 2016 after spending all of the $100 million given by investors. A man named Daniel Simic then bought PlayUp’s assets, including the name. PlayUp Interactive holds its own license, and Simic serves as the company’s chief executive.
The fixed odds provider boasts of a responsible gambling policy, one that features a Northern Territory self-exclusion option. There is a plethora of information on the PlayUp website about everything from pre-commitment limits to its own commitment to respecting clients’ rights to limit or self-exclude.
However, that policy and information directly contrasted a discovery by the Guardian Australia. The report said PlayUp offered bets to customers who asked to be excluded.
Recently, Simic and PlayUp were rolled into one operator, all run by one team. And executives blame the self-exclusion errors on the once-separate licenses that are now one. The combination should resolve the problem.
When self-exclusion issues first emerged in August, PlayUp COO Andrew Parramore said the problem needed to be fixed “ASAP” when the platforms combined. His message to other company executives said that sister companies were not integrated enough to cross over any self-exclusions, especially if the player information on sister companies didn’t match perfectly.
Simic had said, “We have no way of knowing who’s who if wrong data has been entered.”
Even so, Simic claimed that the errors would not breach the company’s license. This means that it had been “possible” for PlayUp to mistakenly offer bets to people who had self-excluded on one site but not all of them.
In at least one instance, Simic said, “There’s one case, and it’s all been resolved and settled. It’s all signed under a confidentiality agreement so I can’t talk too much about it.” And he was careful to add that it wasn’t a planned infraction, but even if it was, “we haven’t actually technically done anything wrong.”
The self-exclusion laws, especially for bookmakers, are a serious issue for the government. Communications Minister Paul Fletcher became aware of the PlayUp allegations and noted that it is a crime to market to people who are self-excluded from a site or online betting network.
The penalties for operators is more severe now than ever before because, according to Fletcher, there are “growing community concerns about the rapid growth and high rate of harm caused by online gambling.”
Northern Territory laws do require all online bookmakers to implement a clear and thorough self-exclusion program as a part of their standard code of conduct.
Unibet Violates in New South Wales
Unibet is a Malta-based online gambling company serving more than 11 million customers in more than 100 countries. It originally launched in 1999 and has grown to offer everything from online bingo to casino games, online poker, and sports betting.
Its Australian arm is called Unibet Australia, and it entered the market after Unibet acquired Betchoice in 2012.
As with PlayUp, Unibet Australia provides an extensive responsible gambling section on its website, detailing self-exclusion and software blocking tools, all with support offered.
Different from PlayUp, however, Unibet’s violation involves advertising violations.
The advertisement in question was one offered on the Unibet website earlier in 2019 that offered a $50 cash bonus for referring a friend to the site. About four months earlier, Unibet ran an ad on the Canberra Times website offering the chance to deposit just $20 and win $100.
The violation? The Betting and Racing Act of New South Wales forbids publishing advertisements that might lure participants into any form of gambling activity without having to log into an account.
That law puts operators on the hook for fines of up to $110,000 per violation, but this one was deemed worthy of a $25,000 fine. The Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney decided on the fine per the results of an investigation by the NSW Liquor & Gaming Authority.
Its Director of Compliance Operations, Sean Goodchild, said that betting operators are obligated to comply with all advertising requirements. “Inducements are known to increase the risk of gambling harm, so any breaches are taken seriously,” he said, according to Gambling Insider.
The article also noted that Unibet’s parent company faced a much more significant fine for online gambling violations in the Netherlands market. After finally dropping a contentious court battle, Kindred Group faces the fine of €470,000.