As a part of regular business proceedings at the Australian Communications and Media Authority, also known as the ACMA, the agency has penalised Entain Ply Limited for offering online in-play sports betting illegally.
The infringements in question took place during a LIV Golf tournament back in October 2022. Entain, which operates the popular Australian gambling sites Ladbrokes and Nedaccepted 78 online in-play bets on the final day of the Bangkok LIV Golf event on October 9th, 2022.
The ACMA Has Been Busy Lately
The ACMA has been on a bit of a rampage when it comes to enforcing gambling laws of late. The agency just blocked four sites including Firefox Casino and issued a warning to a sports streaming service earlier this month. The ACMA also fined BetDeluxe $50,172 for violating spam advertising rules back in February.
These kinds of efforts are nothing new for the ACMA as the agency has blocked hundreds of supposedly illegal gambling websites by ordering Australian internet service providers to block citizens’ access. Blocking sites in this manner is the main tactic employed by the ACMA, but the success of these efforts is questionable at best.
Back in December of 2022, the ACMA blocked the Pokizino and ABA Lucky 33 gambling sites. Only two months later, the agency blocked another six gambling sites. In addition to blocking gambling sites, the ACMA has also targeted marketing affiliates like when the agency blocked NoDepositKings.com and a handful of additional gambling websites. The ACMA also recently teamed up with the Northern Territory to enforce gambling law.
What is Entain Ply Ltd?
Entain Ply Limited, also known as the Entain Group, is a large business dedicated to designing and providing gambling solutions. Entain operates many popular brands throughout the world including Ladbrokes, Neds, and Coral.
This isn’t the first time Entain has been in trouble with a governing body. In 2022, the UKGC levied a massive $17 million fine against the Entain Group for failing to adhere to anti-money laundering guidelines.
What Did Entain Do Wrong?
In this exact instance, it is a bit unclear at first what Entain actually did wrong. The ACMA has penalised the brand for offering bets on a LIV Golf event after the final day of the tournament had already begun.
It seems that offering wagers that were not listed with an “in-play” or “live-betting” distinction may be the root of the problem. On the last day of the tournament in question, Ladbrokes accepted 59 bets and Neds accepted another 19 bets after play had begun.
One odd aspect of this case is that the Chair of the ACMA, Nerida O’ Loughlin, commented on the official infringement notice of $13,320. Ms. O’ Loughlin claims that online in-play betting laws exist to protect vulnerable people and she had this to say on the matter:
Online in-play betting increases the risk for those people experiencing gambling harm as it provides fast outcomes and allows for higher frequency of bets
Entain is a highly experienced wagering operator and it is disappointing it did not have internal procedures in place to prevent or detect the error
The ACMA made it clear to the industry last year that they must have robust systems in place to ensure that online in-play bets are not made available or accepted.
The Chairwoman claims that the ACMA wants to “ensure that online in-play bets are not made available or accepted,” but nearly every major sportsbook in Australia offers live, in-play bets. If we take a look at the Neds Australia sportsbook site referred to in this penalty, we can see a sizeable live betting section.
It is apparent that online in-play bets are being accepted throughout Australia. The explanation is that it’s illegal for bookmakers to accept these types of wagers through their online interfaces. However, they are permitted to display in-play betting odds on their websites and accept action on them via telephone.
The issue in this case comes down to the fact that Ladbrokes and Neds accepted bets online on an event with an incorrect start time, which resulted in the bets effectively turning into unauthorized live bets.
Additional Details on the Penalty
The ACMA claims that Entain reported that its parent company inputted the wrong start time for the LIV Golf event in question. The incorrect start time resulted in 78 wagers being placed. All of the bets were voided.
In order to try and understand this penalty a bit better, we tried to look at the document itself and the details. Unfortunately, the documentation is worded in such a way that it doesn’t provide much clarity.
It is clear that Entain broke at least one rule relating to the Interactive Gambling Act by offering these bets at the wrong start time, which effectively turned the wagers into in-play bets. Despite the above excerpt referencing a total of over $8 million, the document proceeds to explain that the maximum penalty, in this case, is much less.
The infringement notice states that the penalty is to be calculated as either one-fifth of the maximum penalty a court could impose or 60 penalty units for a corporate body like Entain. The amount of each penalty unit at the time was only $222, which resulted in a total fine of $13,320.
Online Gambling and Poker Still Exist in Australia
Despite the ACMA and its stringent enforcement of the gambling rules in place, there are still offshore organizations that offer safe online poker and gambling to Australians. If you reside in Australia and are looking for a reputable offshore poker operator, then please feel free to consult this detailed Australia online poker guide.
If poker isn’t your game and you’d rather check out other kinds of gambling like slots or table games, you may want to consult our extensive Australian internet casinos guide.
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