Good and Bad News for Unibet

It’s not been a good time in Australia for online gambling site Unibet. On July 15, they were fined a total of $48,000 (£25,776) for posting three illegal gambling advertisements. Unibet were also ordered to pay $3,900 in legal costs. They have the right to appeal the decision.

The fine came after an investigation had been carried out by Liquor & Gaming New South Wales. This came about after advertisements had bee placed on the Unibet website and Apple App Store on 26 November last year.

The advertisements had been posted for their Uplift, Reboost and Uniboost products. These see special or enhanced odds being offered to customers.

What was so wrong about the Unibet advertisements? Well, it’s all to do with the NSW Betting and Racing Act that became law in 1998. That makes it an offence for a gambling advertisement to offer any inducement to participate or participate frequently, in any gambling activity.

Darren Duke is the compliance director of the NSW Liquor & Gaming. His view on the Unibet advertisements is that: “Special or enhanced odds have the ability to induce people to open a betting account when they otherwise may be refraining from gambling, and they may encourage people to gamble more frequently.”

The Magistrate said during sentencing that Unibet had previous convictions in this area. Two years ago, they had been fined $15,000 for breaches of betting laws. These new advertisements had been designed to entice people to engage with gambling products and breach the current legislation.

If you can’t do anything to “include people to open a betting account,” then it seems a total waste of time having an advertisement in the first place. Other advertisements entice people to buy the product but at the end of the day, surely it is down to the person seeing the advertisement to make their own mind up.

There had been better news for Unibet last month. A fine that had been issued by the Swedish gambling regulator last year has been reduced. The Administrative Court in Linköping cut in half the penalty fee of SEK100m (€9.9m) that had been imposed on Kindred (who run Unibet as well as several other online gambling sites).

That fine was imposed after the gambling regulator had found they had offered unlicensed lottery games and unauthorised bonuses. Their defence had been that they weren’t bonuses at all but an in-game mechanic. In Sweden, those holding a gaming licence can only offer a welcome bonus to new customers.

Regulators weren’t happy when seeing free bets and free spins offers, so took action. They issued a fine and it was a “high penalty fee” due to the seriousness of what Unibet were doing. It was also based on the turnover of the operator. Last month the court agreed with the decision to issue a fine but felt it was far too high, so halved it.