Australia’s largest online bookmaker Sportsbet has been fined A$2.5 million (US$1.8 million) and has committed to refunding customers around $1.2 million after breaching Australia’s spam laws in 2020 and 2021.
An investigation from the Australian Communications and Media Watchdog (ACMA) found that Sportsbet sent more than 150,000 marketing text messages and emails to more than 37,000 customers who had tried to opt out between January 2020 and March 2021, during the height of the pandemic and lockdowns.
ACMA said that 3,000 marketing texts did not have an unsubscribe function.
CMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said the scale and duration of Sportsbet’s conduct were deeply concerning.
“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,” said ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin.
“Sportsbet’s failures in this matter had the real potential to contribute to financial and emotional harm to these people and their families.”
Sportsbet has paid the $2.5 million infringement notice – a record amount, and has also committed to refund customers who lost money on bets made as a result of the spam texts and emails, which is expected to total around A$1.2 million.
ACMA has also ordered Sportsbet to appoint an independent consultant to review its procedures, policies, training and systems.
Ms O’Loughlin said she was disappointed Sportsbet did not act as soon as they were aware of the problem.
“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,” she said.
“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,” Ms O’Loughlin said.
Read our most recent interview with ACMA authority member Fiona Cameron.