New South Wales Officials Impose Record Penalties on Australian Sportsbooks

Posted on: February 17, 2020, 09:26h. 

Last updated on: February 17, 2020, 11:59h.

New South Wales’ Ladbrokes and Neds gambling businesses were fined (US)$139,378 for allegedly illegal gaming inducements that were included in advertisements appearing on TV and social media.

Scenic New South Wales is a state in Australia which recently imposed fines on sportsbooks. (Image: Tourism Australia)

The Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority of New South Wales imposed the historic penalty on the Australian sportsbooks following an inquiry. Ladbrokes, which owns Neds, was fined in Downing Centre Local Court for four Ladbrokes and two Neds ads they ran on Channel 7, Instagram and Facebook during 2018.

The ads presented bonus bets for a smaller deposit, such as “Deposit $50, get $250 in bonus bets,” authority officials explained.

The bonus bets applied only to players who opened new betting accounts, the authority’s compliance director, Dimitri Argeres, said in a statement.

Inducements are known to increase the risk of gambling harm and these advertisements reached a broad segment of the population,” Argeres said in the online statement posted on Friday.

“In NSW, such advertisements are restricted to registered betting account holders.”

He further cautioned that the “record fine” is a “reminder that betting operators have an obligation to ensure their gambling advertising complies with NSW laws.”

Gambling Inducements Illegal in New South Wales

In New South Wales, betting operators who promote illicit inducements to gamble can pay up to $110,000 for each offense. It is illegal to publish a gambling ad that features an inducement to take part in gambling. Company directors also can face prosecution in criminal courts.

“Penalties of this magnitude are not easily absorbed into running costs,” Argeres added about the record-setting fine for New South Wales. Ladbrokes and Neds can appeal the fine. Ladbrokes acquired Neds via a US $64 million deal in 2018.

The recent penalty follows the authority fining gaming machine technician Riad Allam and machine seller Justin Layden US $67,000 last month, according to SBC News.

The New South Wales Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority regulates casino, liquor, registered club, and gaming machine operations.

James Packer Scrutinized for Australia, Israel Activity

Earlier in Australia, James Packer stepped down as executive chairman of Crown Resorts in 2018. Last month, Packer testified in a New South Wales inquiry.

Lawrence Ho’s Melco Resorts recently pulled out of a deal to acquire an additional 10 percent of Crown Resorts from Packer. Economic pressures related to the coronavirus were blamed for the move.

Melco agreed to a deal last May to purchase 20 percent of Packer’s shares for around $1.75 billion. The purchase of the initial 10 percent was completed in June.

But the acquisition of the second tranche was put on hold pending the result of a regulatory investigation into the transaction by Australian authorities. Australian officials are reviewing Crown’s relationships with junket operators.

Packer is also expected to be called as a prosecution witness in the alleged corruption trial of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

When Packer lived in Israel, he lived next door to the Netanyahus. Packer has explained he enjoyed giving the Netanyahu family gifts because they were his friends. But the indictment documents suggest the intensity of Packer’s giving was unusual, and the gifts included cigar boxes and champagnes.