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Sportsbet pays largest fine by ACMA for spam law breaches

Betting company Sportsbet has paid a $2.5 million infringement notice and has committed to refund customers around $1.2 million after breaching Australia’s spam laws.

An Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) investigation found Sportsbet sent more than 150,000 marketing text messages and emails to over 37,000 consumers who had tried to unsubscribe. Sportsbet also sent over 3,000 marketing texts that had no unsubscribe function.

The marketing texts and emails from Sportsbet, sent between January 2020 and March 2021, either offered incentives to consumers to place bets or contained alerts about upcoming races.

ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said: “We received complaints from people stating they were experiencing gambling-related problems and were trying to manage the issue by unsubscribing from Sportsbet’s promotions.

“Sportsbet’s failures in this matter had the real potential to contribute to financial and emotional harm to these people and their families.”

In addition to the above fine, the ACMA has accepted a comprehensive three-year court-enforceable undertaking from Sportsbet. The undertaking commits it to appoint an independent arbiter to oversee a compensation program to refund customers who lost money on bets made associated with the spam, which is expected to total around $1.2 million.

The undertaking will also require Sportsbet to appoint an independent consultant to review its procedures, policies, training and systems, and implement recommendations from the audit.

O’Loughlin added: “The ACMA contacted Sportsbet on several occasions leading up to the investigation to let the gambling provider know it may have compliance problems and it failed to take adequate action.

“Sportsbet is a large and sophisticated company which should have robust systems in place to comply with spam laws and protect the interests of its customers.

“We will be actively monitoring Sportsbet’s compliance and the commitments it has made to the ACMA.”

Sportsbet also faced some criticism last year over its ‘Bet With Mates‘ platform. Adelaide-based start-up Punt Club considered legal action against  Sportsbet over the brand platform in October last year.

ACMA has previously found Foxtel to be in breach of broadcasting rules by promoting a betting service during the live broadcast of an AFL match.

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