Entain Fined in Australia for Offering Sign-Up Bonuses for New Sports Bettors

Posted on: November 29, 2021, 10:08h. 

Last updated on: November 29, 2021, 11:56h.

British sports betting giant Entain has been issued a fine in Australia’s Northern Territory for violating the region’s gambling laws.

Entain fined Neds gambling Australia
A public transportation bus featuring a Neds betting advertisement is seen in Australia. Entain, the parent organization of Neds, has been fined for the bookmaker violating responsible gaming laws in the country’s Northern Territory. (Image: AAP)

The Northern Territory Racing Commission announced last week that Entain was the recipient of an A$26,690 (US$19,011) fine for advertising sign-up bonuses for new player accounts. The gaming regulator said gambling companies are barred from running such marketing promotions under the territory’s Code of Practice for Responsible Service of Online Gambling.

“Online gambling providers must not offer any credit, voucher, or reward to a person to open a betting account, or to an account holder as an inducement to refer another person to open a betting account,” the territory’s code declares.

Entain is one of the largest gaming companies in the world, with a market cap of $13.5 billion. The Northern Territory Racing Commission says the company’s Neds online sportsbook platform was responsible for the regulatory infraction.

The Racing Commission detailed that one of its inspectors detected the unlawful promotion while attending an event at the Fannie Bay Racecourse on July 31, 2021. The agency says its associate was handed a Neds business card with a QR code that offered “bonus cash” to the person if they created a new Neds account.

Neds Says Affiliates Responsible

Neds responded to the commission’s inquiries by saying affiliate operatives — known in Australia as Business Development Managers (BDM) — were responsible for issuing deposit matches for new players. However, Neds says the BDMs only matched deposits after a new player had opened their account and gambled, which was thought to have circumvented the ban on first-deposit incentives.

“[Neds BDMs] did offer and provide existing customers with matched deposits, but only after they had confirmed that the person was an existing customer with Neds via Customer Support,” the company argued.

The Racing Commission, however, didn’t accept the explanation. The agency instead concluded that the BDMs were essentially violating the prohibition on new player account deposit matches, even if the matches were executed days or even weeks after the account was created.

On the weight of the evidence before it, including the number of new customers who signed up to Neds using the QR code, the Commission is satisfied that the Neds BDMs did offer a ‘credit, voucher or reward to a person to open a betting account,'” the Racing Commission concluded.

The commission reasoned that the QR codes on the cards handed out by the Neds BDMs had the primary purpose “of inducing non-existing customers to open an account.”

Small Potatoes

Entain brass certainly won’t lose much sleep over a $19,000 fine. The company is reportedly amid yet another acquisition attempt. This time, Entain is seeking to take over Baltic betting group Olympic Entertainment.

Bloomberg reports that Entain recently submitted a more than $1 billion offer to acquire part of Olympic’s operations. The targeted group operates Balkans-focused internet gambling websites OlyBet and MaxBet, and additionally owns 111 land-based casinos in Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Italy, and Malta.

Entain’s $1 billion is for Olympic’s online gaming business. Neither Entain nor Olympic have yet confirmed the proposal. But sources speaking on anonymity told Bloomberg that Olympic is reviewing the offer.