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Ladbrokes fined for breaching Australia advertisement laws

Ladbrokes has been fined $35,000 for breaching gambling laws which aim to reduce risks associated with problem gambling.

It’s the second time the Australian branch of the international bookmaker has been found publishing illegal advertisements.

Liquor and Gaming New South Wales found Ladbrokes guilty of publishing adverts which encourage NSW residents to gamble or open a betting account via an incentive, on Wednesday.

The online betting site has been fined $35,000 and ordered to pay $50,000 in legal costs as a result of the ads published on the Ladbrokes website, in the Sydney Morning Herald and on YouTube, all promoting the “Odds Boost” and “Odds Boost Extra” features.

The Odds Boost feature allows punters to increase the odds on racing events via an online bet slip.

The fine is larger than the penalties handed down to CrownBet and Bet365, which faced similar convictions, but this is due to Ladbrokes being a repeat offender.

In 2015, Ladbrokes was fined $7500 plus legal costs of $18,000 for similar illegal promotions.

Liquor & Gaming NSW Deputy Secretary, Paul Newson, said the fact this was Ladbroke’s second breach was worrying, especially when it comes to problem gambling.

“It’s concerning that these sophisticated businesses continue to act irresponsibly by publishing advertising that risks causing or worsening problem gambling to boost profits,” he said.

“NSW gambling advertising laws restrict inducements to reduce the risk of problem gambling in the community.

“Persistent breaches of responsible gambling obligations need an escalated response from the regulator to deter future misconduct and to hold senior management to account for governance and compliance failures.”

Newson is hoping the hefty fine will force Ladbrokes, and other betting operators, to “show proper regard to responsible gambling obligations.”

“Where we find that directors or senior management are involved in breaches, Liquor & Gaming NSW will consider extending criminal liability to these individuals,” Newson added.

Ladbrokes is facing a difficult period with the Interactive Gambling Amendment bill 2016 looming – which will phase out gambling ads and ban in-play betting completely.

It is also dealing with plans to offer head-to-head betting on Victorian community football leagues being “put on hold” following “consultation with the Australian Football League”.

“While Ladbrokes has every faith in its internal measures to uphold the integrity of these leagues, as an official betting partner of the AFL, we accept the umpire’s decision,” Ladbrokes said in a statement in regards to its plans.

The betting agency has not ruled out offering the head-to-head markets in the future, though.

Ladbrokes has had some good news, with a new sponsorship deal with the NRL’s Newcastle Knights confirmed for the year. The Ladbrokes logo will be plastered across the back of the team’s jerseys, as well as around the McDonald Jones stadium.

The betting operator also has a sponsorship deal with the Gold Coast Titans, which has been extended until 2019. This will see the logo on the team’s jersey and around the home stadium too.

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