Unibet fined for NSW breaches

by Ethan Anderson Last Updated
Unibet fined for NSW breaches

Bookmaker Unibet has been fined A$25,000 in New South Wales for advertising materials that violated the state’s Betting and Racing Act.

Casino News Daily reports the penalty was handed down last Monday in Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court.

The Malta-headquartered international online gambling operator Kindred Group entered Australia’s sports betting scene in 2012, operating as Unibet Group.

It secured its entry into the Australian marketplace through the acquisition of local independent online bookmaker Betchoice.

At the time, Betchoice provided betting on various sports and horseraces online, through a Northern Territory licence.

Unibet’s recent fine in New South Wales arose from two separate promotions.

The court issued the fine after an investigation of Liquor & Gaming New South Wales.

The first of two advertisements appeared on The Canberra Times’ website in November 2018.

It read, “Deposit $20, Bet with $100.”

The second promotion was on Unibet’s Australian website in February 2019 and said, “Earn $50 CASH For Each Friend You Refer!”

Both adverts offered inducements to bettors to participate in a gambling activity, but promotions of this type are prohibited under the New South Wales Betting and Racing Act.

Advertising could lead to harm

New South Wales’ gambling advertising rules state that the publication of a gambling advert that “includes any inducements to participate, or participate frequently, in any gambling activity” is considered an offense.

Such promotions can only be offered to holders of betting accounts with licensed operators.

In Unibet’s case, the contested two promotions could be seen by anyone who visited it’s website, without being required to log into their betting account.

The director of compliance operations at Liquor and Gaming New South Wales, Sean Goodchild said this week the two adverts clearly offered inducements to engage in a gambling activity or to open an account with Unibet.

The gambling regulator noted that betting operators are obligated to make sure that all their advertising campaigns that are carried out on the territory of New South Wales are fully compliant with state regulations.

Mr Goodchil noted that “inducements are known to increase the risk of gambling harm so any breaches are taken seriously.”

Under recently implemented gambling advertising laws, operators found guilty of offering inducements face fines of up to A$110,000 per violation.

In addition, company officials can be individually and criminally liable.

News about Unibet’s New South Wales fine came shortly after it emerged the company has withdrawn its appeal of a six-figure fine that was imposed by the Dutch gambling regulator recently.

The watchdog fined the operator 470,000 euro for targeting Dutch customers without being authorised to do so.

Google to relax casino ads policy

Google is planning to allow online casino adverts in the United States in a stunning backflip on one of its moral advertising principles.

High Stakes reported last month that the move could prove to be a boon for the poker, sports betting, casino and gambling industry, who have struggled to get their adverts through some of Google’s strict policies, despite states in the United States legalising the industry in recent times.

Google has so far restricted the ability of such companies to get their product to the masses through its search engine.

According to EGR Intel, Google is “planning to unblock online casino adverts in the US gambling market by the first quarter of 2020” following an earlier decision to allow fantasy betting in some states.

In October, the states of Indiana, Iowa, Montana, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island were given the all-clear to advertise, joining Nevada, New Jersey and West Virginia – with countries such as Kenya, Nigeria and Colombia also named.

Operators will benefit tremendously because they will have access to tools such as Google Ads, Google Display Network and YouTube to target their customers.

For the online poker industry, it remains to be seen how much they will benefit, but this move reflects a general trend that sees the financial benefits take precedence over oppressive regulation.

Although Google is insistent hat regulation will still determine which markets get access to the relaxed rules, it is seen my many in the industry as a positive step.

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