Ladbrokes Australia and fellow Australia-facing sportsbook Neds have been slapped with a record fine in the state of New South Wales over illegal gambling advertising activities.
It emerged this week that Liquor & Gaming NSW, the agency tasked with monitoring the state’s gambling industry, has fined the two sports betting operations a record A$207,500 fine for offering state residents inducements to gamble in a manner that breached local rules and regulations.
Both Ladbrokes Australia and Neds are owned by gambling group GVC Holdings. The six-figure fine the two brands were recently hit with was the largest ever issued by Liquor & Gaming NSW.
The New South Wales gambling watchdog found during an investigation that Ladbrokes and Neds released a number of gambling ads across a local television channel and social media that offered bonus bets to bettors who opened new accounts with the operators. One of the ads stated: “Deposit $50, get $250 in bonus bets.”
The adverts ran on Channel 7 and across Facebook and Instagram in 2018. Ladbrokes’ campaign involved four ads, while Neds ran two ads.
Under New South Wales gambling law, locally licensed sports betting operators are prohibited from publishing gambling advertisements that include inducements for bettors to participate or participate frequently in gambling activities. Both Labrokes and Neds violated rules by offering bonus bets to new account holders.
Bonus Bets Are Restricted to Existing Customers
The Downing Centre Local Court this week ruled that the two sports betting brands had breached New South Wales law and should be hit with a hefty fine.
Of the record fine issued, Liquor & Gaming NSW Assistant Director of Compliance Dimitri Argeres said that “inducements are known to increase the risk of gambling harm and these advertisements reached a broad segment of the population.”
He went on that in New South Wales bonus bets ads are restricted to existing betting account holders and that the record fine they issued “should serve as a reminder that betting operators have an obligation to ensure their gambling advertising complies with NSW laws.”
Ladbrokes and Neds can appeal the fine.
In December, Kindred Group’s Unibet Australia brand was hit with a A$25,000 fine in New South Wales over similar violations of state gambling advertising rules.
The operator appeared on the state regulator’s radar screen after running an ad on The Canberra Times’ website in November 2018 that read “Deposit $20, Bet with $100.” One more ad got the sports betting brand in regulatory trouble. That one was featured on Unibet Australia’s own website in February 2019 and said “Earn $50 CASH For Each Friend You Refer!”
Both ads offered inducements for bettors to open new accounts or participate in gambling activities in a manner that breached state advertising rules.