EXCLUSIVE: A billion-dollar betting company that has persistently broken the law in Australia has been fined once again for their dodgy advertisements targeting gambling addicts but the punishment seems to be little more than a token slap on the wrist for Unibet as the local media looks the other way. Serkan Ozturk reports.
Unibet has been consistently breaking the law in Australia with sneaky ads trying to induce gambling addicts in the most addicted nation in the world to lose more of their money, a court has found this month.
The online bookmaking company, trading as Betchoice Corporation Pty Ltd, was convicted in July for posting three illegal gambling advertisements but has only been fined just under $50,000.
The paltry punishment is even more surprising when during sentencing at the Downing Centre Local Court on Thursday, 15 July the Magistrate noted that Unibet had a record of previous convictions and had most recently been fined $15,000 in 2019 for breaches of the betting legislation.
According to the NSW Gaming & Liquor department which brought the legal action, Unibet had last November posted three ads on its website and in the Apple app store regarding availability of the ‘Uniboost’, ‘Uplift’ and ‘Reboost’ products which are a form of special or enhanced odds.
“The advertisements were designed to entice people to engage with gambling products and are a breach of the legislation,” NSW Gaming’s acting compliance director, Darren Duke, said.
“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.”
Under the Betting and Racing Act 1998, it is an offence to publish a gambling advertisement that offers any inducement to participate, or participate frequently, in any gambling activity.
A review of Google News shows that not one single local Australia media outlet has yet reported the news, despite the gambling authority sending a press release to all major media outlets across the nation last week.
It’s perhaps of little surprise considering how dependent and intertwined large swathes of the Australian media are on the gambling industry, with local commercial media flush with just about as many gambling ads as there are Harvey Norman advertorials.
Unibet was originally founded in 1997 by businessman Anders Ström, who began operating it out of his London home.
Presently headquartered in Malta, Unibet now boasts annual revenue of almost two billion Australian dollars, with over 11 million customers in over 100 countries.
The company is now part of the Kindred Group, which controls 11 brands along with Maria Casino, Stan James, 32Red and iGame.
To get its message out to punters, Unibet sponsors a wide range of major sports teams and events around the world, including Scottish football giants Glasgow Rangers.
Unibet first began to score a share of Australia’s online and sports bettting markets in 2005 following the purchase of local bookmaker Betchoice.
It’s believed Australians wager over $25 billion on horse racing and $11 billion on sports betting each year.
A further near $200 billion is spent on poker machines and at casinos each year.