Australia’s leading sportsbook operator, Sportsbet, has been stung by regulators to the tune of AU$3.7 million (US$2.7 million) for breaching spam laws.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) said an investigation had found Sportsbet sent more than 150,000 marketing text messages and emails to over 37,000 customers who had tried to unsubscribe. It also sent over 3,000 marketing texts with no unsubscribe function.
The spam, sent between January 2020 and March 2021, offered incentives to customers to place bets or contained alerts about upcoming races.
As a result, Sportsbet has been hit with an AU$2.5 million infringement notice and has committed to refund customers around AU$1.2 million. It is the largest penalty given by the ACMA for breaches of spam laws, the authority said.
“We received complaints from people stating they were experiencing gambling-related problems and were trying to manage the issue by unsubscribing from Sportsbet’s promotions,” said ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin.
“Sportsbet’s failures in this matter had the real potential to contribute to financial and emotional harm to these people and their families.”
As part of its punishment, Sportsbet has accepted a comprehensive three-year court-enforceable undertaking to appoint an independent arbiter who will oversee a compensation program for customers who lost money on bets made associated with the spam. The undertaking will also require Sportsbet to appoint an independent consultant to review its procedures, policies, training and systems, and implement recommendations from the audit.
“Sportsbet is a large and sophisticated company which should have robust systems in place to comply with spam laws and protect the interests of its customers,” O’Loughlin said.
“We will be actively monitoring Sportsbet’s compliance and the commitments it has made to the ACMA.”
On an expensive day for Australia’s sportsbooks, the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) also successfully prosecuted BetEasy for offering a reward as an inducement to open a betting account.
The company has been placed on a 12-month good behaviour bond and ordered to pay AU$5,000 to Gambler’s Help for breaching the Gambling Regulation Act 2003 (the GR Act). It has also been ordered to pay the VGCCC’s costs of AU$4,400.
Source: Inside Asian Gaming