ACMA fines BetDeluxe $50,172 for breaching spam rules
As we’ve reported in the past, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is responsible for enforcing Australian gambling laws. Over the last few years, The ACMA consistently penalizes operators that violate current rules and regulations. On February 22, 2023, an online gambling brand called BetDeluxe paid a $50,172 infringement notice to the ACMA.
While the majority of these cases relate to anti-money laundering or social responsibility regulations, this case is very different. An ACMA investigation found this BetDeluxe sent nearly one million unacceptable ads via SMS text messages.
The ACMA enforces the Interactive Gambling Act
The ACMA is known to primarily enforce rules and regulations relating to safe and responsible gambling in addition to AML procedures. In recent years, the ACMA has continuously required Internet Service Providers or ISPs to block access to certain gambling sites. The ACMA now has a blacklist of nearly 700 blocked sites in total.
One such action took place earlier this month when the ACMA blocked Pokie Surf and five other sites. Already in December 2022 ACMA blocked Pokizino and ABA Lucky 33.
This type of action dates back to at least 2019, when the ACMA first announced it would begin blocking gambling sites through s313 of the Telecommunications Act. The move is due in part to amendments to the existing Interactive Gambling Act passed in 2017.
In addition to ACMA blocking sites, it is also responsible for monitoring and regulating legitimate Australian online gambling operators such as BetDeluxe.
What is BetDeluxe and what went wrong?
BetDeluxe is a popular Australian gambling website that offers a racebook and sportsbook. BetDeluxe is an Australian brand that only offers services to Australian players. Hence, the brand is required to adhere to the strict and stringent rules introduced by the ACMA.
BetDeluxe and its director, Noah Rose, were ordered to pay $50,172 after the operator sent more than 104,000 text messages without an unsubscribe feature and more than 820,000 text messages that did not contain the sender’s contact details. The ACMA has specific rules that do not allow this type of gambling advertising.
The text messages advertised a “cheeky kick” and a “VIP service” for racing and sports betting. In addition, the messages promoted cashback offers and bonus bets. The ACMA has made it clear that sending commercial messages without accurate sender details or a way to opt out and unsubscribe is not permitted.
As part of this enforcement procedure, the ACMA has also applied a two-year undertaking from BetDeluxe, which will oblige the brand to carry out an independent review of its e-marketing practice, and BetDeluxe has also agreed to make improvements where necessary in line with this legally enforceable obligation.
The ACMA prioritizes spam rules
The ACMA says it wants to make enforcement of SMS and email opt-out rules a priority in 2022 and 2023. In the past 18 months, more than $6.4 million in fines related to spam or telemarketing laws have been paid. The ACMA wants to make it clear that it takes these types of rules and enforcement quite seriously.
ACMA Chair Nerida O’ Loughlin had this to say about the recent action:
We have received complaints from a significant number of people, many of whom expressed their frustration at receiving gambling promotions,
Any spam can be annoying, but when gambling is involved, the risk of financial and emotional damage can be stark, so it’s important that betting operators take compliance very seriously.
We will be closely monitoring BetDeluxe’s compliance with the legally binding commitments it has made to the ACMA. The online gambling industry, including smaller players, should be advised that the ACMA actively monitors for indications of non-compliance with spam rules, and penalties can be severe.
Despite Chairman O’Loughlin’s serious claims, we can’t help but wonder if a $50,000 penalty is high enough. $50,000 seems like an absurdly small amount when you consider the size and scope of the online gambling business and industry as a whole. It is likely that this amount of financial penalty is seen by the operators as just a slap on the wrist.
Australians can still play poker and gamble online safely
Although the ACMA continued to penalize operators with great regularity, Australian users can still safely gamble online. For all Australian players looking to enjoy online casino games such as slots or pokies, table games and specialty games such as bingo, we would recommend checking out Joe Fortune Casino. Joe Fortune offers hundreds of casino games, excellent bonuses and the brand maintains a solid reputation.
If you are at all interested in learning more about Australian internet casinos and learning about all of our top recommendations, please feel free to review this article covering the best Australian online casinos.
Maybe you’re more interested in poker, which is of course our main topic of expertise here at ProfessionalRakeback. If you want to learn about Australian online poker along with our top recommendations, please feel free to head over to this comprehensive guide to online poker in Australia.