Australian gambling regulators’ patience with online sports betting operators’ promotional come-ons is wearing wafer-thin.
On Friday, the Liquor and Gaming New South Wales regulatory body issued an AU$207,500 (US$139,300) financial penalty against UK-listed operator GVC Holdings’ Ladbrokes Australia and Neds brands for offering illegal gambling inducements to NSW residents. The sum represents a new record high for this type of infraction.
NSW’s gambling laws forbid betting operators from offering potential customers any credit, voucher or reward as an inducement to gamble with a particular betting site. Ladbrokes was previously found guilty of violating this law in 2015, for which it paid a comparatively paltry AU$7,500 plus AU$18k in court costs. Neds was fined AU$18k in early 2018 for similar shenanigans.
This current penalty involved six ads, four from Lads and two by Neds, which appeared on Channel 7 television, Instagram and Facebook in 2018. The ads offered new customers initial deposit bonuses that in some cases exceeded the actual deposit by a factor of five.
Liquor & Gaming director of compliance Dimitri Argeres noted that such offers were restricted to existing betting account holders and that the ads in question “reached a broad segment of the population.” Argeres hoped the severity of the penalties – which “are not easily absorbed into running costs,” would remind operators that they have “an obligation to ensure their gambling advertising complies with NSW laws.”
Both Lads and Neds have the option of appealing, but NSW courts rejected Lads’ appeal of its previous conviction, so Lads may opt not to throw away more money on what will likely prove a hopeless cause.
GVC acquired Neds in November 2018 and folded its operations into its Ladbrokes Australia unit. Neds had only been in existence for about a year after launching with a plan to utilize an Ethereum-based cryptocurrency token it called Nedscoin, which quickly fell by the wayside after Northern Territory gaming regulators expressed unease.