As we have reported on in the past, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is responsible for enforcing Australian laws relating to gambling. Over the past few years, the ACMA has consistently punished operators that violate the rules and regulations in place. On February 22, 2023, an online gambling brand called BetDeluxe paid a $50,172 infringement notice to the ACMA.
Despite the vast majority of these cases being related to Anti-Money Laundering or social responsibility regulations, this case is much different. An investigation by the ACMA found that BetDeluxe sent nearly one million unacceptable advertisements via SMS text messages.
The ACMA Enforces the Interactive Gambling Act
The ACMA has been known to primarily enforce rules and regulations relating to safe and responsible gambling in addition to AML procedures. In recent years, the ACMA has continually asked Internet Service Providers, or ISPs, to block access to certain gambling sites. The ACMA now has a blacklist nearing 700 blocked sites in total.
This kind of action dates back to at least 2019 when the ACMA first announced that it would begin to block gambling sites through the Telecom Act s313. This move was in part due to amendments to the existing Interactive Gambling Act passed in 2017.
In addition to the ACMA blocking sites, it is also responsible for monitoring and regulating legal Australian online gambling operators, like BetDeluxe.
What is BetDeluxe and What Went Wrong?
BetDeluxe is a popular Australian gambling website that offers a racebook and sportsbook. BetDeluxe is an Australian brand that only offers services to Australian players. Therefore, the brand is required to follow the strict and stringent rules that the ACMA has in place.
BetDeluxe and it’s Director, Noah Rose, have been ordered to pay $50,172 after the operator sent over 104,000 SMS text messages without an unsubscribe function and over 820,000 SMS texts that did not contain the contact details of the sender. The ACMA has specific rules in place that do not allow for this type of gambling advertisement.
The SMS messages advertised a ‘cheeky punt’ and ‘VIP service’ for racing and sports bets. Additionally, the messages promoted money-back offers and bonus bets. The ACMA has made it clear that sending commercial messages without accurate sender details or a way to opt out and unsubscribe is not allowed.
As a part of this enforcement procedure, the ACMA has also implemented a two-year court-enforceable undertaking from BetDeluxe which will commit the brand to an independent review of its electronic marketing practice and BetDeluxe has also agreed to make improvements where required in accordance with this court-enforceable undertaking.
The ACMA is Prioritizing Spam Rules
The ACMA has claimed that it wants to make enforcing SMS and email unsubscribe rules a priority throughout 2022 and 2023. In the past 18 months, over $6.4 million in penalties relating to spam or telemarketing laws have been paid. The ACMA wants to make it clear that it is taking these kinds of rules and enforcement quite seriously.
The ACMA Chair Nerida O’ Loughlin had the following to say about the recent action:
We received complaints from a significant number of people, with many expressing their frustration about receiving promotions for gambling,
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.
We will be closely monitoring BetDeluxe’s compliance and the legally binding commitments it has made to the ACMA, The online gambling industry, including the smaller players, should be on notice that the ACMA is actively monitoring for indications of non-compliance with the spam rules, and the penalties can be serious.
Despite the serious claims from Chairwoman O’Loughlin, we can’t help but consider whether a $50,000 penalty is large enough. $50,000 seems like an absurdly small amount when we take into consideration the size and scope of the online gambling business and sector as a whole. It is likely that this size of financial penalty is viewed by operators as a mere slap on the wrist.
Aussies Can Still Play Poker and Gamble Online Safely
Although the ACMA has continued to penalize operators with great regularity, Australian consumers can still safely gamble online. For any Australian players looking to enjoy online casino games like slots or pokies, table games, and specialty games like bingo, we would recommend checking out Joe Fortune Casino. Joe Fortune offers hundreds of casino games, excellent bonuses, and the brand maintains a solid reputation.
If you’re at all interested in learning more about Australian internet casinos and to learn about all of our top recommendations, please feel free to browse over to this article covering the best Australian online casinos.
Perhaps you are more interested in poker, which is of course our primary topic of expertise here at ProfessionalRakeback. If you’d like to learn about Australian online poker along with our best recommendations, please feel free to head over and peruse this detailed Australia online poker guide.