In Australia and the gaming regulator for the state of New South Wales has reportedly called on the government to begin slapping online sportsbetting firms with higher penalties for repeatedly breaking its rules on advertising.
According to a report from The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, the plea from the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority watchdog comes some four years after the maximum sanction per offence was increased to about $77,000. However, the source detailed that this top consequence has never been applied with the regulator now arguing that repeat offenders often treat fines for illicitly advertising their wares as a cost of doing business.
The appeal from the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority reportedly follows the recent decision to hit Australian online sportsbook operator PointsBet Holdings Proprietary Limited with a penalty of slightly over $24,500 for publishing illicit gambling inducements via Instagram. The regulator purportedly disclosed that about 2,500 people saw the offending advertisements promising cash-back bonus wagers on the latest edition of the local State of Origin rugby league tournament series.
However, the newspaper reported that PointsBet Holdings Proprietary Limited is one of seven locally-licensed online bookmakers to have been sanctioned for illegal inducements more than once over the course of the last four years. The Melbourne-headquartered operator was purportedly hit with a fine of some $14,000 in 2019 for similar offenses breaching the New South Wales Betting and Racing Act.
Tim Costello (pictured) serves as the chief advocate for the Alliance for Gambling Reform lobby group and he reportedly told The Sydney Morning Herald that such repeat offending would continue so long as New South Wales ‘lacked fines commensurate with the damage’ being caused by gambling.
Costello reportedly stated…
“It’s shocking and the truth is the industry has gone upstream and captured regulators and that state capture is reflected in the fines that are just a small cost of doing business for operators. We don’t really have a serious set of sanctions and fines. Gambling inducements can ruin lives and the ripple effects are enormous but when fines are this weak the state is failing to protect the community.”
For his part and the Hospitality and Racing Chief Executive for the state government’s Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade, Anthony Keon, reportedly agreed that the financial penalties being dished out to iGaming firms for illegal advertisements ‘need to be higher’. Nevertheless, the regulator purportedly rejected criticism that the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority had been ‘captured’ as it has been ‘constantly advocating for courts to issue higher fines’.
A statement from Keon reportedly read…
“We would like to see penalties for repeated behavior towards the upper end and if they fail to respond to that we will be discussing with government to get fines increased. Clearly some of these operators think fines for gambling inducements are just the cost of doing business but they are wrong.”
Since 2015, the newspaper reported that the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority has prosecuted 37 cases of illicit gambling advertising and consequently collected fines totalling roughly $449,200. The regulator purportedly furthermore has 18 similar cases before the courts and recently voiced its commitment towards continuing to enforce local regulations that have been designed to help prevent punters from developing an addiction to gambling.