Sports wagering start up company Betr has been fined a record $210,000 (USD$140,00) by Liquor and Gaming New South Wales (L&G NSW) for breaching the state’s laws in its promotional ads during its launch in October.
The News Corp-backed wagering company Betr offered 100-to-1 odds and 20-1 odds on major events including the Melbourne Cup, Cox Plate and NRL and AFL markets as part of its launch.
Betr offered gamblers inflated returns on every horse in the Melbourne Cup, provided they bet less than $10 (US$6.70), and similar inflated returns were also offered for the Cox Plate and AFL and NRL markets.
These massively inflated odds were advertised in newspapers, on television, on the radio and online.
The Liquor and Gaming NSW “Gambling Advertising and Inducements” guidance (pdf), states that “special additional odds or increased winnings for a limited period, specific race or match of a minimum bet amount” are unlawful.
NSW law prohibits the advertisement of any offer to induce customers to participate in a gambling activity, including an inducement to open a betting account or to bet more frequently.
However, a Betr spokesperson said the company does not believe it breached any regulations or laws and is “very conscious of our regulatory obligations.”
“Whilst we cooperated fully with Liquor and Gaming, we do not accept and have made no admissions to breaching NSW law. Our decision not to challenge the penalty notices was made to resolve the matter amicably.”
“We offered and advertised the 100-1 Melbourne Cup market in accordance with the law and entirely consistent with the guidance published by Liquor and Gaming NSW which clearly indicated this conduct was legal,” a Betr spokesman said, report AAP.
Liquor & Gaming NSW Executive Director Regulatory Operations & Enforcement, Jane Lin, said Betr was issued a significant fine of 14 penalty infringement notices totalling $210,000 due to the regulator’s concerns that they constituted significant breaches of NSW law.
“This company tried to attract a new customer base and establish a significant market share with promotions that we consider crossed the line, using inducements that had the potential to cause harm to the community,” Lin said in a media release.
“In many cases, such promotions can only be legally offered to betting account holders who, unlike the general public, have made a conscious decision to open an account and receive this information.
Lin said that wagering companies can legally advertise their products, but they are not allowed to advertise or promote inducements such as offers of enhanced odds or bonus bets to entice people to open a betting account.
Betr voluntarily withdrew the inducing advertisements when contacted by Liquor & Gaming NSW. Betr agreed to pay the 14 penalty notices and finalised the matter by avoiding going through the court process.
“Liquor & Gaming NSW has a zero-tolerance approach to the publication of illegal gambling inducements and we will continue to proactively monitor television, radio, print and online gambling advertising to ensure all providers are complying with the restrictions in the Betting and Racing Act 1998,” Lin said.
News Corp owns a third of Betr, with former Melbourne Storm executive chairman Matthew Tripp and former BetEasy chief executive Andrew Menz holding senior roles. Tripp helped establish wagering companies Sportsbet and BetEasy in Australia.
News Corp’s international accounts revealed affiliate losses of around $33 million (US$22 million) in the second half of 2022, with a share of those losses associated to Betr, and the loss of shares are expected to increase, reported The Guardian.
Betr’s two executives, Peter Blunden and Mark Reinke, have reportedly quit the wagering company’s board recently.
SportChamps, another wagering company, has been convicted by Liquor & Gaming NSW of illegal gambling advertisements on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and its own website.
This is the third time SportChamps has been charged with previous smaller fines of $2000 (US$1340) and $2500 (US$1680) in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
SportChamps was fined $40,000 (US$26,800) and ordered to pay $14,000 (US$9,400) in costs for breaching the NSW gaming laws at the Downing Centre Local Court on March 27.
The fine was related to advertisements via the SportsChamps website and social media platforms that offered cash prizes for games requiring membership, special odds and bonus cash prizes, free bets and a “refer a friend” promotion.
“Gambling operators like SportChamps that try to get around these restrictions are acting unlawfully and increase the risks of gambling harms,” Lin said.
“Offering free bets on Facebook and Instagram, including a refer a friend promotion, shows a complete disregard for the rules and the well-being of those in our community who didn’t consent to receive gambling advertising.
“Liquor & Gaming NSW has a zero-tolerance approach to the publication of illegal gambling inducements and we will continue to proactively monitor television, radio, print and online gambling advertising to ensure all providers are complying with the restrictions in the Betting and Racing Act 1998.”
Liquor and Gaming NSW said the court may impose a maximum penalty of $110,000 (US$74,000) per offence for a company, while an individual who promotes and publishes illegal gambling and betting advertisements can be fined $11,000 (US$7,400).