New South Wales is not playing games with its gambling advertising laws. And the latest crackdown on an ad by Sportschamps, followed by one on PointsBet, proves it.
Included in those crackdowns are monetary penalties. Sportschamps is feeling the repercussion of violating the law in the form of a $2,500 fine plus more than that amount in legal costs. And PointsBet received a $20,000 fine just days later.
Liquor & Gaming NSW supported the penalties and used them as a chance to warn other operators to heed gambling ad laws. And these April cases came on the heels of one in March involving Sportsbet.
Closing Loopholes in Gambling Advertising Laws
In the past, operators had been able to sneak around some of the gambling advertising laws by finding loopholes in disclaimers and other small print. The new laws passed in 2018, however, closed those gaps. In addition, the recent cases of fines and penalties issued show the seriousness of the law and the commitment of Liquor & Gaming NSW to enforce it.
NSW Betting and Racing Act
The NSW Betting and Racing Act is a broad part of the law that legislates almost every aspect of racing and sports betting. It also defines the activities, permissions, oversight and records, investigation and enforcement powers, and advertising guidelines.
Part 4A of the law covers gambling advertising and inducements. Meanwhile, Section 33H details prohibitions on gambling-related ads. The second part of Section 33H, in subsection H, details that a gambling advertisement must not “include any inducement to participate, or to participate frequently, in any gambling activity (including an inducement to open a betting account).”
Sportschamps: Illegal Gambling Ad Online
On April 3, Sportschamps representatives went to the Downing Centre Local Court to deal with its offence. It was related to an advertisement posted on the sportschamps.com.au website in July 2018, which read:
“Matched first time deposit bonus up to $50. Deposit for the first time and we’ll match your deposit with Bonus Cash, up to $50. Keep the winnings from Bonus Cas (sic).”
On the button to for readers to click, it read:
“Sign up for free.”
Liquor & Gaming NSW Director of Compliance Operations Sean Goodchild argued that it violated the aforementioned Part 4A, Section 33H, subsection H of the law and said, “Advertising gambling inducements is unlawful in NSW, and operators who flout or try to get around these restrictions are acting against industry and community interests and increasing risks of gambling harms.”
A Sportschamps representative argued that no one signed up for the offer.
Chief Magistrate Graeme Henson still issued a fine of $2,500, along with $3,250 in legal costs.
PointsBet: Illegal Gambling in App Store
On April 9, the same Liquor & Gaming NSW executive was back at the same local court. This time around to handle charges against PointsBet.
The offending advertisement appeared next to the PointsBet app in the Apple App Store online. The ad subsequently offered a deal to those opening a new betting account:
“ALL 40+ METRO RACES RUN 2ND UP TO $100 BACK”
This violated the same provision of the law. And although PointsBet pled guilty, the company noted that the advertisement was difficult to find.
Chief Magistrate G J considered the ad placement but found that it had serious potential to induce players to log on to the site. The offence warranted a severe fine in the amount of $20,000.
Goodchild also had comments about this case. “Under new laws that came into effect in July 2018, wagering operators, if found guilty of promoting inducements to gambling, face fines of up to $55,000 per offence, and company directors can be criminally prosecuted.”
Sportsbet Completed the Trifecta
Looking back one month, the Liquor & Gaming NSW news releases shows a similar violation that took place in the same court on March 7.
Sportsbet was the violator in that case, having posted its bad ad on the sportsbet.com.au website in July 2018. The cartoon-formatted image showed two men with thumbs up, and it read:
Refer a Friend. Get a $100 Bonus Bet for every friend you refer to join sportsbet.com.au (excl. VIC, NSW, WA & SA) Terms and Conditions”
The disclaimer was then found to be irrelevant, and the offer of a bonus bet was ten ruled to be an inducement capable of persuading or encouraging a person to open an account. Therefore, Sportsbet received a $10,000 fine, along with more than $7,300 in legal costs. The Magistrate further noted that the penalty was issued to encourage compliance with the gambling advertising laws.