Sportsbet Cops $3.7 Million Hit For Breaching Spam Laws

Sportsbet Cops $3.7 Million Hit For Breaching Spam Laws
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Sportsbet has paid a record-breaking fine for breaching Australian spam laws, with the ACMA saying the gambling site sent over 150,000 marketing text messages or emails to customers that had tried to subscribe.

The infringement notice totals $2.5 million. It’s the largest penalty given by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) for breaches of spam laws.

But not only that, Sportsbet is having to refund customers around $1.2 million, as part of a three-year court-enforceable undertaking. 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.

According to the ACMA, Sportsbet sent more than 150,000 marketing text messages and emails to over 37,000 consumers who had tried to unsubscribe. The ACMA said 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 the scale and duration of Sportsbet’s conduct was “deeply concerning, particularly given the potential harms involved with gambling”.

“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,” O’Loughlin said.

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

The ACMA said they contacted Sportsbet on several occasions leading up to the investigation to let them know there may be compliance problems. O’Loughlin said they 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,” she added. “We will be actively monitoring Sportsbet’s compliance and the commitments it has made to the ACMA.”

Over the past 18 months businesses have paid nearly $3.4 million in ACMA-issued infringement notices for breaking spam and telemarketing laws.