The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is at it again. Hot off the heels of Kayo being busted for breaching gambling advertising rules comes the news of Entain Pty Ltd receiving a penalty for taking in-play bets through their online platform.
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Australia takes its gambling legislation seriously and over the past several years the ACMA has started to crack down further on operators and their affiliates in the betting industry. Given that Australians spend more on gambling per capita than any other nation, the industry is flourishing, particularly when it comes to sports betting. And with that surge in popularity comes a surge in advertising and marketing, which the ACMA has turned its watchful eye to.
This is precisely why compliance checks need to be ensured, Editor-in-Chief at Casino Shortlist, Sharon Kingsby stresses this:
‘As a leading affiliate marketing site that specializes in online casinos in Australia, we understand the importance of being compliant, it’s actually one of the primary deciding factors on our checklist when researching our partners. However, we also understand that mistakes do happen, and sometimes, just like in the case of Entain, they’re beyond a company’s control. That’s why when entrusting other companies with important jobs, it’s always good to check, double or even triple check that everything’s up to scratch and in line with all the regulatory framework.’
Who is Entain?
The company itself is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is one of the world’s largest gambling companies. Operating in some of the most regulated markets in the world, the company is trusted by millions of people worldwide. Entertain’s child companies in Australia include Betstar, Bookmaker.com.au, and Ladbrokes. Under other markets, the company has brands like BetMGM, Coral, bwin, Eurobet, and partypoker, and is licensed and operates in over 20 different countries.
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How and why were Entain fined?
The ACMA issued Entain with an infringement notice of $13,320, in regards to Entain, owned by Ladbrokes and Neds, accepting in-play bets for the Bangkok LIV Gold tournament in October 2022. Under Australian laws, no in-play betting is legal under any sport, in any circumstances. In their investigations, the ACMA found that Entain accepted and processed 78 bets while the tournament was in play. Although it might seem like small change to large sports betting providers, the fine was the maximum allowable under current regulations.
The regulations fall under the Interactive Gambling Amendment Act, which has been around since 2017. The ban on in-play betting was designed to reduce harm to problem gamblers, who may get caught up in the excitement of play and place bets without a cool head.
How did the bets slip through Entain’s systems?
Entain didn’t know that they had accidentally allowed in-play bets in the golf tournament. In fact, the company only wised up to the situation thanks to the help of a customer who flagged the available in-play bet three hours after play had started.
The error, rather than being a deliberate mistake, was in the end down to human error. Unfortunately, the staff at Entain had entered the incorrect date and time combination for the tournament, so the live hours of play were incorrect on the betting operator’s systems. This is an easy mistake to make. Perhaps a team member in a different time zone entered their own local time zone hours instead, perhaps a slip of the finger occurred changing an 11 to a 12, or perhaps they just didn’t double-check what they had entered.
Regardless of how the error occurred, the ACMA was not amused with the error, scolding the company for not having better error-checking mechanisms in place for such a large operator.
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A sounding call for compliance auditing
It certainly does sound strange that a betting operator as big as Entain could make such a simple mistake. Even just having a second and third pair of human eyes on event times would ensure this type of mistake wouldn’t occur. For even less chance of this type of mistake occurring, machine automation checking times against official schedules, along with time zone calculations, would be the best approach.
Is in-play betting always illegal?
Scratching your head at the legalities of in-play betting and thinking to yourself “That’s not what I remember from placing bets?” That may be because you’re more familiar with the UK sports betting scene. Over in the UK, one of the world’s most mature and heavily regulated sports betting markets, in-play betting is perfectly legal. In fact, in-play bets in the UK make up over half of all online bets placed on sports. Putting it in this perspective, in contrast with Australia, makes it easy to see why British sports fans who relocate to Aus might feel stymied by the sports betting situation down under.