Bookmaker Hit with Illegal Advertising Fine

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A lot of focus has been placed on the way gambling companies advertise. As problem gambling continues to rise, there are calls for more stringent requirements. Neds, an Australian bookmaker, has fallen foul of the authorities as a result of a recent advertising campaign.

Background of Neds

Neds is a new Australian bookmaker that is mainly focused on sports betting. They had originally planned to be a betting platform concentrating on cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.

Their aim was to be dedicated to accepting bets via cryptocurrency, making them the first bookmaker in the country to do so. However, Neds was ordered by the Northern Territory Racing Commission to stop this service immediately.

As a result, they have become a more standard betting platform. Their owner is Dean Shannon, who was previously involved in Ladbrokes Australia and Bookmaker. The company was founded last year in the Northern Territory.

The headquarters is in Brisbane, and they had their IPO (initial public offering) in April 2018 that raised $40m (£30.4m). They are planning on launching internationally, focusing on the United Kingdom initially. As a result of the technology utilized when creating the Neds platform, they can easily deal with significant transaction volumes.

Details of their fine

A New South Wales court has fined Neds for some of their recent advertising efforts. This campaign was found to be in violation of advertising laws for gambling companies in the region. They had been trying to attract new gamblers through a variety of incentives when they signed up for a new account with Neds.

This level of encouragement to get people gambling is not allowed in Australia. One of the most popular ways by which bookmakers try to attract new customers is through welcome offers.

Neds was offering to match the deposits of new signups up to $372 (£282), as well as providing other bonuses that would see the odds of a given bet randomly boosted, with no extra stake required from the bettor. The Liquor and Gaming Board of New South Wales that pressed five charges against Neds, which pleaded guilty on all counts. The result was a $13,250 (£10,000) fine.

This is not the first time this bookmaker caused controversy for its advertising. The company previously ran television ads featuring scantily-clad women, saying that sports betting is sexy, and also offering gambling incentives.

Following many complaints filed with the Advertising Standards Board, a television ad showing construction workers engaging in mobile betting instead of working was pulled from the airwaves.

Other bookmakers in the region have fallen foul to advertising laws also in recent years. The Australian division of Ladbrokes was hit with fines and legal fees worth $62,600 (£47,500) in April 2017 due to repeated infringements. CrownBet and Bet365 have also been assessed similar fines in the past.

Australian advertising laws

There have been calls across the world to crack down on the types of advertising that gambling companies can use. In Britain, a task force made up of MPs is currently looking at the issue.

At the beginning of 2018, new restrictions were brought in by the New South Wales authorities in an attempt to reduce the harmful issues gambling causes in the region.

Included in these new measures was a ban on any ads that could hint at the idea of consumers making profits from gambling. This had been allowed if there was a disclaimer saying that gamblers could possibly lose all of their funds.

New penalties were introduced for gambling companies that are repeat offenders, with fines of up to $40,500 (£30,700) per offense. Directors of gambling companies are no longer safeguarded from all liability for the ads their company runs, with new laws assuming they know of these ads in advance of being published.

Neds certainly has been focused on creating provocative ads, so this fine may not cause much change in behavior going forward. They may say that all publicity is good publicity and continue attracting the headlines despite these fines.  They are a company going from strength to strength, with forecasts saying that 2018 will see with them generate revenues in the hundreds of millions.

There are indications that even heavier fines will be assessed for these types of offenses continue, along with the possibility of criminal convictions becoming part of the punishment for certain company directors.

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