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Welcome conviction for illegal advertising by betting company

The Alliance for Gambling Reform has applauded the successful prosecution of Betchoice for breaching NSW’s gambling laws.

The prosecution followed a Liquor & Gaming NSW investigation into promotions that appeared on Betchoice’s Unibet website in February 2019 offering the inducement to “Earn $50 CASH For Each Friend You Refer!”, and a separate ad on The Canberra Times website in November 2018 that offered “Deposit $20, Bet with $100”.

On 15 December in Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court, Betchoice was convicted and ordered to pay fines and costs of $25,000 for offering illegal gambling inducements to NSW resident.

Alliance Chief Advocate, the Rev Tim Costello, said prosecuting gambling companies for illegally inducing people to gamble was a critical part of ensuring people are protected from gambling harm.

“There’s a reason there is strong legislation around inducements to bet, and that’s because gambling harm is a very real problem and we can’t have people being incentivised to gamble via promotions visible to everyone, not just registered gamblers,” Rev Costello said.

“The legislation on this is very clear, and it is important prosecutions take place.”

NSW laws make it an offence to publish a gambling advertisement that “includes any inducement to participate, or participate frequently, in any gambling activity (including an inducement to open a betting account)". However, it is not illegal to advertise in this way to existing account holders.

“The Alliance believes any inducements to gamble are harmful and should be banned,” Rev Costello said. “We hope to see further changes in NSW laws to protect everyone, including existing gamblers.

“We also look forward to a time when inducements to gamble in pubs and clubs through loyalty programs are also banned because all inducements for any type of gambling are harmful.”

Under laws that recently came into effect, wagering operators found guilty of promoting inducements to gamble face fines of up to $110,000 per offence and company directors can be individually and criminally liable.

“We know that inducements can increase the risk of gambling harm so it is imperative that any breaches are taken seriously,” Rev Costello said.

“We applaud Liquor & Gaming NSW for pursuing this prosecution. Hopefully, there won’t be any more breaches by the industry, but keeping a close eye out is important, and the Alliance and our supporters do just that and refer on any breaches we notice.”

Rev Costello said with the revelation earlier this month that Australians lost close to $25 billion gambling in just one year it was evident that gambling harm was being experienced by a large number of people.

“Anything that we can do to minimise the number of people experiencing gambling harm in this country is a good thing,” Rev Costello said.

“We know that sports gambling advertisements are normalising gambling for children, and they simply can’t be exposed to inducements to gamble too. We don’t want children thinking gambling is risk-free or thinking that encouraging their friends to gamble at any stage of life is a good thing.”

Media contact: Rebecca Thorpe on 0491 209 436 or rebecca@agr.org.au

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