Kindred Group brand Unibet has been found guilty of posting three illegal gambling advertisements according to an announcement by Liquor & Gaming New South Wales (L&GNSW). The operator has been fined a total of A$48,000 and has to pay A$3,900 in legal costs as well.
The outcome of the investigation was published on the Liquor & Gaming NSW website on July 23, 2021. Unibet operates under its subsidiary company Betchoice Corporation Pty Ltd in Australia.
“In Downing Centre Local Court on 15 July, Unibet pleaded guilty to three offences and was fined $16,000 per offence, totalling $48,000, for breaching NSW gaming laws,” the statement by the local authorities confirms.
The offences relate to three adverts published on the company website and the Apple App Store on November 26, 2020. Specifically, this concerned the adverts for the Uniboost, Uplift and Reboost specials and its enhanced odds products, which were deemed to include inducements to participate in any gambling activity.
This violates the Betting and Racing Act 1998 as confirmed by NSW Liquor & Gaming’s A/Compliance Director Darren Duke.
“Special or enhanced odds have the ability to induce people to open a betting account when they otherwise may be refraining from gambling and they may encourage people to gamble more frequently,” Mr Duke stated in the news release.
Gambling in Australia is regulated at both the state/territory as well as the federal level. The Unlawful Gambling Act in New South Wales went into effect in 1998. Within the state borders, L&GNSW is responsible for policy, licensing, and compliance.
The Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) is an additional independent statutory decision-maker for a range of casino functions, among others. Some of the licensing functions have been delegated to the L&GNSW.
Australia’s federal interactive gambling law currently prohibits several activities such as online casinos, slot machines, and poker, online wagering services related to “in-play” live sports events, and online instant lotteries. Wagering services provided without a license by an Australian State or Territory likewise represents a criminal offense.
Unibet has the right to appeal the sentence but the company has a track record of previous convictions in Down Under. The operator had most recently been fined $15,000 in 2019 for breaches of the betting legislation for a nearly identical offence.
“The advertisements were designed to entice people to engage with gambling products and are a breach of the legislation,” state authorities concluded back then.
Liquor & Gaming NSW has been conducting thorough investigations for online and offline activities during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Late in 2020, gambling giant Tabcorp was convicted and ordered to pay A$30,000 in fines and costs for “publishing an inducement to gamble or open a betting account on Instagram.”
Other recent convictions have mostly been in relation to COVID-related breaches by venues in Australia itself. The only other betting-related incident concerned a former Star Casino employee, who was involved in an illegal betting scam that cheated the casino out of almost $500,000 in 2020.