On December 16, Betchoice was fined Aus$25,000 ($17,115) by the Sydney Downing Centre Local Court for making illegal offers of gambling inducements to customers in New South Wales, Australia. Betchoice, which trades as Unibet in Australia, was found to be in violation of the NSW Betting and Racing Act.
The charge stemmed from an advertisement provided by the company in February 2019. In that ad, the company stated: “Earn $50 CASH For Each Friend You Refer!” Another advertisement that appeared in November of last year on the website for The Canberra Times ran an offer that stated: “Deposit $20, Bet with $100.”
According to the NSW Betting and Racing Act, it is illegal to publish any type of gambling that “includes any inducement to participate, or participate frequently, in any gambling activity (including an inducement to open a betting account).” Such an action allows the agency to impose a fine of up to $110,000.
According to law, these promotions can only be offered to those holding a registered betting account in the state where the ad is displayed. This is where the company came in violation. Because the ad was visible to anyone on the newspaper’s website that made it in violation of the law. The same is true on the Betchoice website because people were not required to log into their individual accounts to see the advertisement.
In a statement by Liquor & Gaming NSW director of compliance operations Sean Goodchild, he stated, “Betting operators have an obligation to ensure that all advertising complies with NSW laws on gambling advertising. Inducements are known to increase the risk of gambling harm so any breaches are taken seriously.”
This is not the first time that Unibet has found themselves in trouble with the NSW Office of Responsible Gambling. They were fined $7500 and ordered to pay an additional $5000 in professional costs for illegally running an ad of inducement in August 2015.
In addition, Unibet received a €470,000 fine from the Dutch gambling regulator Kansspelautoriteit this past summer. This came after the company had targeted Dutch customers without lawfully being able to do so.
This law has been put in place as government officials have become increasingly concerned about the risk of harm caused by gambling. As Mr. Goodchild noted, these types of inducements have been known to increase the risk of harm caused by gambling, so the agency has been quick to respond to breaches of the law.