Online betting company PlayUp was recently fined AUD7,500 ($5,246) for targeted a self-excluded former gambler. The gambler had enrolled for self-exclusion two years ago and terminated his account with the platform. However, the company kept enticing him to play.
The player filed a formal complaint with Liquor & Gaming NSW, the gambling regulator of New South Wales. According to the player, he was sent a promotional email offering free bets even after he opted out of emails from the platform. The regulator said that an advertisement that includes any type of inducement to gamble or even open a betting account will be considered an offense under the NSW Betting and Racing Act.
Online platforms can send promotional emails only to the registered gamblers of a platform. PlayUp pled guilty during a trial at Downing Centre Local Court, Sydney on April 30. They were fined AUD7,500 plus AUD3,000 in legal costs ($2,100) by Magistrate Georgina Darcy. She noted that the plaintiff was a vulnerable person and the email sent by the online platform was an inducement to create a gambling account.
Director of compliance operations at Liquor & Gaming NSW, Sean Goodchild said that the NSW Betting and Racing Act was designed to protect people from gambling-related harm. He said that if someone chooses to exclude themselves from the gambling operator, sending them a promotional email is unacceptable. The self-exclusion system is designed to reduce problem gambling risk, and operators should be vigilant and ensure that they maintain adequate self-exclusion data on their customers.
Liquor & Gaming NSW is continuing to crack down on rogue operators. PlayUp’s fines are giving a timely warning to other gambling platforms to buckle up for action. The regulator has already fined PointsBet, Sportchamps and Sportsbet for violating regulatory guidelines.
Sportsbet pleaded guilty for running a “refer a friend” ad campaign in March. The company was fined AUD10,000 (USD7,000) for illicit inducement to the gambler and over AUD7,300 ($5,102) in legal fees. In April, Sportchamps was also convicted for illegal advertising. The company ran an advertisement in July 2018 that matched first-time deposits with Bonus Cash. The court considered this an inducement to gamble and fined the company AUD1,780 ($1,244) for posting illegal ads and an additional AUD2,316 ($1,619) in legal costs.
The regulator now holds more powers for prosecuting regulatory breaches. Its updated laws came into effect in July 2018. Now, it can fine betting companies up to AUD39,000 ($27,258) per offense in case of inducements to gamble. It can also prosecute company directors in criminal courts.