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SportChamps Fined Again for Flouting Gambling Ad Laws

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Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade

Online betting operator SportChamps has been fined $17,500 for inducing people to gamble and open a betting account following five previous convictions for similar offences.

SportChamps pled guilty in Downing Centre Local Court to two offences under the Betting and Racing Act following a Liquor & Gaming NSW investigation into advertisements on its website and Facebook pages that stated ‘Punt for free. Learn the game!’ and ‘Receive a free bet each day’.

In New South Wales, it is an offence to publish or offer inducements to open a betting account. Liquor & Gaming NSW Executive Director Regulatory Operations, Jane Lin, said it was unacceptable that SportChamps continued to offend.

“SportChamps has five previous convictions for gambling advertising offences from 2017, 2018, 2020 and 2021,” Lin said. “It’s extremely concerning that this operator has amassed multiple convictions for breaching laws that are in place to protect people from gambling harm.”

For these latest offences, the company tried to attract a new customer base and increase its market share with no regard for the state’s gambling laws. Once an account was created, access was provided to the SportChamps Tournament Betting Lobby webpage, which included access to free and paid gaming tournaments. A deposit icon took users to a page where they were asked to insert credit card details and the deposit amount or they could make direct EFT deposits to SportChamps.

“Wagering operators can legally advertise their products in a variety of ways but they can’t advertise or promote inducements such as offers of increased odds or bonus bets to entice people to open a betting account,” Lin said. “Offences like these have the potential to undermine the entire regulatory framework, which is why we take a zero-tolerance approach to this type of advertising. New South Wales bans the advertisement of any offer of an inducement to participate in a gambling activity including an inducement to bet more frequently.”

It is also prohibited to offer any inducements to open betting accounts, refer friends to open betting accounts, keep a betting account open or consent to receive gambling advertising. A maximum penalty off $110,000 applies to any corporation and $11,000 for individuals who publish prohibited gambling advertising.

Australia

SkyCity Appoints Jason Walbridge as Chief Executive Officer

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SkyCity Entertainment Group Limited has appointed Jason Walbridge as its new Chief Executive Officer.

Jason has more than two decades of senior executive public company experience in the global land-based and online gaming industries. He is currently a Strategic Advisor to global gaming and technology company Aristocrat Leisure Limited on its proposed acquisition of NeoGames S.A, and Executive Chairman of National Entertainment Network LLC, the largest amusement route operator in the US. He has been appointed to the role after an extensive international search.

SkyCity Board Chair Julian Cook said: “The Board is delighted to announce Jason’s appointment as CEO of SkyCity, and we are looking forward to the valuable contribution Jason will make to the business. Jason has extensive global experience in the land-based and online gaming industries, which will position him well to lead SkyCity through its next phases.”

Mr Walbridge said: “It will be a privilege to lead SkyCity, and I am excited to be joining the business at this time as SkyCity looks to pursue the many opportunities ahead of it.”

Mr Walbridge is expected to start in early July 2024, following his move back to New Zealand.

Prior to his current roles, Mr Walbridge held roles with the online gaming supplier NYX Gaming Group Limited and its acquirer Light & Wonder Inc, and before that he spent 18 years with Aristocrat Leisure Limited where he held executive leadership roles in New Zealand and the US. Previously, he held senior roles within consulting, including with Ernst & Young, and was an Officer in the New Zealand Defence Force. Mr Walbridge holds an MBA in International Management from the Auckland Institute of Studies.

Mr Cook confirmed that Callum Mallett will continue as Interim Chief Executive Officer until Mr Walbridge’s commencement date.

“I’d like to thank Callum for his continued leadership and his support during this period,” Mr Cook said.

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Australia

VGCCC Fines BlueBet AU$50,000 for Gambling Advertising Breaches

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BlueBet has been fined AU$50,000 by the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) for breaching gambling advertising regulations.

The company was found guilty of 43 charges related to displaying gambling advertisements on or above public roads, contravening the Gambling Regulation Act 2003.

The charges stemmed from an investigation initiated by VGCCC, following a complaint from a member of the public. The breaches occurred over a two-week period in August and September 2022, with BlueBet’s gambling advertisements appearing on digital billboards at various locations, including Point Cook, Laverton, Rockbank and Ravenhall.

Magistrate Greg Thomas, overseeing the case, expressed scepticism about BlueBet’s defence that it was unaware of the breaches, given the strategic placement of the billboards to target males aged 15-54 years old. While no conviction was recorded, Magistrate Thomas noted the high degree of negligence exhibited by BlueBet.

VGCCC CEO Annette Kimmitt AM said: “Gambling advertising has no place on public roads where it is readily visible to children and other vulnerable groups. These places are especially difficult to avoid as part of day-to-day activities. This decision sends a clear message to wagering providers that flout these protections for our community.”

Although Magistrate Thomas considered imposing a higher fine and recording a conviction, he took into account BlueBet’s guilty plea, cooperation with VGCCC and measures taken to prevent future breaches. BlueBet has implemented changes to prevent similar incidents and has cooperated with VGCCC throughout the process.

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Australia

VGCCC Introduces New Rules for Wagering Account Statements

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The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) has introduced new standards for how activity statements should be presented to wagering account holders. The new standards require providers to use plain English and avoid unnecessary vocabulary. The use of colours is limited to black and red to represent losses.

The VGCCC took the measure after finding inconsistencies in the way information was displayed on sample activity statements across different providers. Account holders must be able to see how much of their own money they have lost, with free and bonus bets excluded from the net loss figures. Net wins must be shown with stakes deducted. The gambling harm taglines that appear at the end of wagering ads must be displayed on each statement.

The new standards came into force on April 1. Failure to comply could result in a penalty of 60 penalty units, equivalent to AU$11,538.60 for each non-compliant activity statement issued.

VGCCC CEO Annette Kimmitt AM said: “The days of inconsistent player activity statements are over. Wagering account holders will be better informed about their spending – and therefore better equipped to make informed decisions about their gambling – thanks to the clarity and fairness these changes bring.”

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