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Record fine for wagering company Betr over gambling advertisements

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Record fine for wagering company Betr over gambling advertisements
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Sports wagering company Betr has been fined $210,000 by Liquor & Gaming NSW for breaches of NSW’s wagering laws in its promotional material during its launch last year.

Betr offered 100-1 and 20-1 odds on major events including the Melbourne Cup, Cox Plate and NRL and AFL markets as part of its launch in October 2022. The odds were advertised in newspapers, on radio and television, and online.

Liquor & Gaming NSW reached the view that these advertisements breached NSW laws prohibiting the advertisement of any offer of an inducement to participate in a gambling activity, including an inducement to open a betting account or bet more frequently.

As a result, the regulator has issued 14 penalty infringement notices totalling $210,000 which Betr has elected to pay. The $210,000 in penalties represents the largest ever fine issued to a wagering operator for offering inducements in NSW.

Liquor & Gaming NSW Executive Director Regulatory Operations & Enforcement, Jane Lin, said Betr was issued with a significant fine due to the regulator’s concerns that the conduct constituted significant breaches of the law.

“This company tried to attract a new customer base and establish a significant market share with promotions that we consider crossed the line, using inducements that had the potential to cause harm to the community,” Ms Lin said.

“In many cases, such promotions can only be legally offered to betting account holders who, unlike the general public, have made a conscious decision to open an account and receive this information.

“Wagering operators can legally advertise their products in a variety of ways but they can’t advertise or promote inducements such as offers of enhanced odds or bonus bets to entice people to open a betting account.”

Betr voluntarily ceased the advertising campaign when contacted by Liquor & Gaming NSW. By Betr paying the penalty notices, the matter has now been finalised without a court process.

It comes as wagering company SportChamps has been convicted of posting illegal gambling advertisements on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and its website, as a result of an investigation by Liquor & Gaming NSW.

In Downing Centre Local Court on Monday 27 March 2023, the company was fined $40,000 and ordered to pay $14,000 in costs for breaching NSW gaming laws. This is the third time SportChamps has been prosecuted, following a $2000 fine in 2018 and a $2500 fine in 2019.

The prosecution related to advertisements via the sportschamps.com.au website and social media that offered cash prizes for games requiring membership, special odds and bonus cash prizes, free bets and a ‘refer a friend’ promotion.

“Gambling operators like SportChamps that try to get around these restrictions are acting unlawfully and increase the risks of gambling harms,” Ms Lin said.

“Offering free bets on Facebook and Instagram, including a refer a friend promotion, shows a complete disregard for the rules and the well-being of those in our community who didn’t consent to receive gambling advertising.”

“Liquor & Gaming NSW has a zero-tolerance approach to the publication of illegal gambling inducements and we will continue to proactively monitor television, radio, print and online gambling advertising to ensure all providers are complying with the restrictions in the Betting and Racing Act 1998,” Ms Lin said.

A court may impose a maximum penalty of $110,000 (per offence) for a corporation and $11,000 for an individual who publishes a prohibited gambling advertisement, while each penalty notices carries a fine of $15,000 .

Australia

Hospitality and Racing leaders visit Tamworth to listen and learn

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The NSW Government’s Vibrancy Reforms will be top of the agenda when the Hospitality and Racing Regulatory Roadshow program visits Tamworth on Tuesday 21 May.

Senior executives from Hospitality and Racing will meet with businesses, industry groups and community and Aboriginal representatives to discuss the Government’s liquor and gaming reforms and regulatory priorities.

The event will also include a presentation by the Office of the 24-Hour Economy Commissioner on the Government’s Vibrancy Reforms to cut red tape in areas such as noise regulation and boost live music and other entertainment options.

Hospitality and Racing Deputy Secretary Tarek Barakat said the roadshow would provide a great opportunity to engage in genuine dialogue with local industry leaders.

“We’re looking forward to catching up with Tamworth’s liquor, gaming and racing stakeholders to discuss how we can work together to support safe and vibrant hospitality experiences,” Mr Barakat said.

“Tamworth is famous for its annual country music festival, but it also has a thriving live music scene throughout the year.

“This has been expanded even further, as seven Tamworth venues have now taken up the NSW Government’s Vibrancy Reform initiative, providing two hours extended trading in return for hosting live music.”

Mr Barakat said the roadshow was also a valuable opportunity for Hospitality and Racing leaders to gain feedback and suggestions on how they could better support the unique needs of north-west NSW communities.

“Those living and working in their communities are best placed to advise us on what is needed and how we can all work better together to achieve outcomes,” he said.

“This is especially true for the local Aboriginal community, and I look forward to hearing from them in regard to the liquor and gaming reforms, as well as listening to any suggestions for future changes and initiatives.”

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Australia

Nerida O’Loughlin Reappointed as ACMA Chair

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The Governor-General, His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Rtd), has accepted the Albanese Government’s recommendation that Ms Nerida O’Loughlin PSM be reappointed as Chair of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

Ms O’Loughlin has been reappointed for a three-year term, commencing on 14 October 2024, having first been appointed in 2017 and reappointed in 2022.

The Chair has extensive executive and regulatory experience, and is well respected across the sector. Her reappointment provides continuity as the ACMA works to deliver important outcomes for consumers and industry in the communications and media sectors, and implement reforms being undertaken by Government.

In her current term, Ms O’Loughlin has led the ACMA’s work to strengthen telecommunications consumer safeguards, particularly for vulnerable Australians, overseen the establishment of BetStop – the National Self-Exclusion Register and Australia’s first SMS ID Registry – and taken strong enforcement of anti-scam and illegal gambling rules.

Ms O’Loughlin has also led important work on media diversity, misinformation and disinformation on digital platforms, and supported improved digital connectivity through the allocation of valuable radiocommunications spectrum.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Communications, the Hon Michelle Rowland MP:

“I congratulate Ms Nerida O’Loughlin PSM on her reappointment as Chair of the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

“Since her appointment in 2017, Ms O’Loughlin has led the ACMA to deliver important reforms and regulatory activities in the communications and media industries.

“This includes better supporting consumers facing financial hardship pressures in paying their telecommunications bills, mitigating consumer harms in gambling advertising, enforcing anti-scam rules and taking enforcement action against corporations for non-compliance with Australia’s spam unsubscribe rules.

“The Chair’s continuity will provide the Authority ongoing certainty as the Albanese Government continues its important media and digital platforms reform agenda.

“I look forward to continue working with Ms O’Loughlin as the ACMA Chair.”

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Australia

Crown Reinstated at Sydney Casino

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The NSW Independent Casino Commission has found Crown Sydney suitable to retain its casino licence after nearly three years of intensive remediation.

Chief Commissioner, Philip Crawford, said Crown has come a long way and must now demonstrate its long-term commitment to maintaining suitability.

“The NICC is confident the Crown we deemed suitable today has a strong model to keep operating into the future,” Mr Crawford said.

The NICC’s suitability assessment established that Crown Sydney has fundamentally reformed its business and is operating the casino within the objects of the Act, the requirements of the suitability deed, and in compliance with its regulatory obligations.

In addition to proving it can run the casino lawfully, Crown has remediated its business in other meaningful ways such as building a culture of transparency and accountability across its integrated resort.

“Hard work and transformation aside, the NICC has not forgotten the level of misconduct exposed in 2021 when Crown was found unsuitable,” said Mr Crawford.

“Crown Sydney has ongoing work to reach steady state and it must continue to lift standards and maintain its cultural transformation.

“There is and will always be room for improvement, but Crown is a changed business that is looking toward the future.

“Likewise, the NICC is a changed regulator with enhanced powers, a singular focus on casinos, and a mandate to address the risks of harm.

“This decision is a positive outcome for Crown Sydney, its staff, and the community – who can be sure the NICC will use all of its powers to keep the casino in check.”

In addition to the implementation of hundreds of new internal controls, the Bergin-based reforms have been reflected in a new licence and new regulatory agreement between Crown Sydney, the NSW Government and the NICC.

These agreements include updated settings, such as the removal of fetters to the NICC’s powers, as well as previous compensation trigger clauses that are no longer part of the casino legislation.

Mr Crawford said: “Crown cannot disregard the responsibility and privilege that comes with holding a casino licence. Crown Sydney’s ability to provide a destination hospitality and entertainment venue underpinned by the restricted gaming facility is contingent on its steadfast commitment to continuing suitability, accountability and compliance.”

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