Australian online sports betting companies are finding out that they need to be very careful how they advertise.
Last week, Ladbrokes Digital Australia war ordered to pay a fine of $7,500 plus $18k in court costs after the company was found guilty of illegal advertising for offering inducements to punters in the state of New South Wales.
The NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR) took Ladbrokes to court over three adverts featured on the company’s website between April 2 and May 29. The ads in question offered existing customers or new sign-ups the chance to win free bets of up to $1k per day.
Under NSW’s Racing Administration Regulation 2012, betting operators are prohibited from advertising any credit, voucher or reward as an inducement to gamble with a particular site, with a maximum fine of $5,500 per incident. A few months ago, OLGR scored two other successful prosecutions involving similar violations by Sportsbetting.com.au and ClassicBet Paty Ltd.
NSW recently expanded its anti-inducement laws to include any kind of published inducement, including via social media. Deputy Premier and Justice Minister Troy Grant said operators “have been warned” that OLGR was monitoring “all mediums” for signs of transgressions and wouldn’t hesitate to take operators to the woodshed.
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Meanwhile, Australia’s Advertising Standards Board (ASB) has spanked Paddy Power’s Aussie offshoot Sportsbet over a TV ad that some viewers found to be an irresponsible treatment of Australia’s growing skin cancer epidemic.
The ad in question featured a man at a horserace with a heavily sunburnt face except for a pale sunglassed-shaped outline around his eyes. A voiceover accompanying this image said: “Don’t worry, that’s only second degree. Spring it on!” after which Sportsbet’s Cox Plate Day betting offers appeared on screen.
A viewer who claimed to be a melanoma survivor complained to the ASB that the ad was offensive for making light of “such a severe sunburn.” Sportsbet defended the ad as “clearly intended to be treated in a light-hearted manner” and said the depicted scenario did not in any way suggest that “people should not take sunburn seriously.”
The ASB didn’t buy Sportsbet’s reasoning, saying the ad sent “the wrong message in relation to sun safety” because “the use of the imagery of the sunburnt man is not clear” and the voiceover “amount[s] to a suggestion that people don’t need to take skin protection seriously.” The ad has already been withdrawn from the airwaves and Sportsbet has agreed not to run it again.