Liquor & Gaming NSW wants fines raised for illegal advertising

By Peter Lynch

The New South Wales (NSW) gaming regulator says online betting providers who advertise illegally should be given higher penalties, as reported by WAtoday.

Liquor & Gaming NSW, which is responsible for monitoring advertising to detect inducements to gamble, such as cash-back offers, says that repeat offenders treat fines simply as a cost of doing business.

Since 2018, the maximum fine for operators guilty of promoting inducements is AU$110,000 (US$77,000), but the top penalty has never been handed out.

PointsBet earlier this month was fined AU$35,000 for publishing illegal gambling inducements after pleading guilty to two offences on its Instagram account and website last year. Around 2,500 are believed to have received the ad.

The online operator received an AU$20,000 fine for the same offences in 2019, and is one of seven bookmakers to have been caught more than once for illegal inducements in the past four years.

Anthony Keon, Chief Executive of Hospitality and Racing, in the Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade, commented: “Absolutely fines need to be higher. We would like to see penalties for repeated behaviour towards the upper end... if they fail to respond to that, we will be discussing with government to get fines increased.”

Since 2015, Liquor & Gaming NSW has prosecuted 37 matters for such advertising, with AU$642,500 handed out in fines.

“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,” said Chief Advocate of the Alliance for Gambling Reform Tim Costello.

“We don’t really have a serious set of sanctions and fines. Gambling inducements can ruin lives, the ripple effects are enormous... when fines are this weak, the state is failing to protect the community.”

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