Amidst calls from anti-gambling advocates in Victoria for stricter laws on gambling promotions, NSW has slapped Ladbrokes with a fine for posting illegal gambling inducements on its Australian iGaming website. The internet betting giant was issued a fine of $7,500, plus $18,000 in court costs.
Ladbrokes Digital Australia was hit with a lawsuit by the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing after an investigation into promotional creatives that breached the legal ethics of commercial advertising in the state. The ads in question offered punters a chance to win wagers of up to $1,000 per day, provided they signed up an account with Ladbrokes, or were existing members of the online betting site.
According to NSW law, it is illegal to induce punters into placing bets by way of “any credit, voucher or reward as an inducement to participate in gambling”. Deputy Premier and Justice Minister Troy Grant reiterated that fact when determining the operator had exhibited illegal online gambling inducements on its website from April 2 to May 29 of this year.
Ladbrokes Digital Australia could have been subject to a much larger penalty for the crime. The operator faced up to $16,500 in fines, with each of the three counts against them providing a maximum fine of $5,500. Instead, only a $7,500 fine ($2,500 per count) was invoked, plus court fees, bringing the total penalty to $25,500.
Crackdown on Illegal Gambling Inducements Continues
According to Justice Minister Grant, NSW has only just begun its crackdown on illegal gambling inducements by the state’s authorized internet betting sites. He said that, starting December 1, the government would extend the ban of inducements well beyond the current prohibition of “credit, voucher and reward”. NSW plans to integrate new advertising laws that proscribe all forms of published gambling inducement.
“Wagering operators have been warned,” said Mr. Grant. “The publication of wagering inducements in NSW is not acceptable.”
He went on to confirm that the “OLGR is monitoring gambling related advertisements across all mediums and will take strict action against those flouting the law.”
Anti-Gambling Advocates Blame Inducements for Addiction
Just last week, it was reported that Gambler’s Help Southern, an organization that assists problem gamblers and their families with addiction, called inducements “the main reason” why compulsive bettors are incapable of stopping themselves.
“Inducements directly aimed to increase and keep clients gambling without knowing the individual gambler’s circumstances and with absolute disregard to their health and wellbeing, both emotionally and financially, is borderline criminal,” said Alvin Efklides, Operations Manager for Gambler’s Help Southern.
According to the counseling service, a number of their clients indicated they believe it was the inducements of online gambling services that influenced them to continue betting beyond their means. Efklides called this form of advertising “the most persuasive and intoxicating of all strategies deployed by any form of gambling in the world.”
Even the Australia Wagering Council, which supports the rights of online betting operations to promote their services, admitted that, “Both consumers and wagering operators would benefit from a more uniform regulatory approach.”