Australia's Online Regulator Punishes BetDeluxe Over Spam

February 22, 2023
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Australia’s national online gambling regulator has fined corporate bookmaker BetDeluxe more than A$50,000 ($34,200) for spamming customers and ordered an operational review, the second such punishment since issuing a massive fine to Flutter subsidiary Sportsbet.

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Australia’s national online gambling regulator has fined corporate bookmaker BetDeluxe more than A$50,000 ($34,200) for spamming customers and ordered an operational review, the second such punishment since issuing a massive fine to Flutter subsidiary Sportsbet.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) fined Melbourne-based BetDeluxe A$50,172 and ordered a court-enforceable review of its marketing practices, spam training for staff and regular compliance reports, according to a statement on Wednesday (February 22).

The ACMA said that BetDeluxe, owned by Racing Victoria-licensed bookmaker Noah Rose, sent more than 104,000 text messages lacking an unsubscribe option and more than 822,000 text messages lacking sender contact details between December 2021 and February 2022.

The company was also punished for two instances of sending unsolicited commercial electronic messages.

The SMS texts offered bonus bets and money-back betting with the wording “Fancy a cheeky punt?” as part of a “VIP service” on sports betting and racing wagers, the ACMA statement said.

“Any spam can be annoying, but when gambling is involved the risk of financial and emotional harm can be pronounced, so it’s important that wagering operators take compliance very seriously,” ACMA chair Nerida O'Loughlin said.

BetDeluxe argued that some of its messages were sent by mistake or were exempt from legal restrictions for various reasons. The regulator dismissed each of these arguments.

As with the Sportsbet enforcement in early 2022, which included A$3.7m in fines and customer refunds, BetDeluxe has agreed to intensive governance reform under ACMA and independent supervision.

The company must appoint an independent consultant to review its obligations under the Spam Act 2003 and implement its findings on quality assurance, training and compliance, as well as submit reports on its progress to ACMA.

The ACMA report into BetDeluxe was completed in September last year, but the regulator only announced this on Wednesday after securing the company’s cooperation with the independent review on January 27.

The ACMA fine is further evidence of a more committed and serious approach to gaming regulation by Australia’s national investigative bodies, including the financial transactions regulator, AUSTRAC.

In a separate case, a New South Wales (NSW) state local court convicted and fined BetDeluxe A$35,000 in May 2022 after gambling bureaucracy Liquor & Gaming NSW prosecuted it for illegal online advertising.

Meanwhile, the Northern Territory Racing Commission has issued a maximum fine of A$55,080 to corporate bookmaker betr for making unsolicited personal approaches, and sending marketing material without consent, to customers.

The case, also reflective of increasing regulator sensitivity on promotional breaches, is partly an extension of a direct marketing probe into betr’s licensee, NTD Pty Ltd, and partly a response to a complaint from a rival bookmaker whose customers it solicited.

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