The government of New South Wales is tired of its citizens being preyed upon by the gambling industry, and now they’re fighting back. Leading this effort is the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority, which oversees all such operations throughout NSW.

It’s become evident that this regulatory body isn’t messing around. This week, they issued their largest fine ever, slapping Ladbrokes Australia and Neds with a record-setting penalty of $207,500.

This is just the latest in a series of crackdowns meant to show gambling operators that NSW means business. Major penalties have been issued in the last few months, and this trend shows no signs of slowing down.

Ladbrokes/Neds Violations

In 2018, both Neds and its parent company Ladbrokes ran a series of ads on Channel 7, Facebook and Instagram. The ads targeted new players, offering them $250 in bonus money in return for a deposit of $50.

So where did they go wrong? Well, NSW law prohibits any advertisement that “includes any inducements to participate, or participate frequently, in any gambling activity.” This took effect following the passage of the NSW Betting and Racing Act.

Actually, the promotion in question could’ve been offered to registered members of the sites without any problem. After all, if you already have an account at a casino or sportsbook, then you probably know what you’re getting into. However, the ads were visible to everyone, registered or not, which is what got Ladbrokes and Neds into trouble.

Fines for this sort of infraction can go as high as $110,000 per offence. The state also has the option of seeking criminal charges against company executives, although there’s no indication of that in this case.

An Official Statement

On Thursday, Dimitri Argeres of the Liquor and Gaming Authority made several comments on the matter in an official statement. Here are the highlights:

“Penalties of this magnitude are not easily absorbed into running costs.”

“Inducements are known to increase the risk of gambling harm and these advertisements reached a broad segment of the population.”

“In NSW such advertisements are restricted to registered betting account holders. This record fine should serve as a reminder that betting operators have an obligation to ensure their gambling advertising complies with NSW laws.”

Unibet logo

More Fines in February

The Liquor and Gaming Authority also handed down a $25,000 fine against bookmaker Unibet earlier this month. This penalty also stemmed from advertisements that violated the state’s Betting and Racing Act.

The first offence came from a 2018 ad on The Canberra Times website which read, “Deposit $20, Bet with $100.” The second appeared on Unibet’s Australian website in 2019 and stated, “Earn $50 Cash for Each Friend You Refer.”

Both ads were judged to offer an inducement to open an account with Unibet or engage in gambling. Therefore, the end result was a fine.

New Year, New Penalties

The Liquor and Gaming Authority started the year off with penalties against a pair of individuals. In January, two industry license-holders were punished for their roles in a game machine rebirthing racket.

Gaming machine vendor Justin Layden was fined $34,000 and banned from the industry for one year. Meanwhile, gaming technician Riad Allam was fined $66,000 and banned for three years.

Both men were found guilty of consigning, purchasing, and selling gaming machines without proper authorization. This included taking machines that were scheduled for destruction, rebirthing them, and then selling them to licensed venues.

Each man faced a maximum fine of $11,000 per offence, as well as 12 months in jail. Lucky for them, the Liquor and Gaming Authority decided not to pursue incarceration. However, the recent behaviour of the governing body should still have would-be cheats and scammers on alert.

Additional Reading

If you’d like to know more about the constant legal entanglements involving the Aussie gaming industry, please see the following: