Australian MP calls for heavier fines against gambling companies that breach duties

The NT Racing Commission fined Ladbrokes $78,540.
The NT Racing Commission fined Ladbrokes $78,540.

Andrew Wilkie says the recent fine issued to Ladbrokes is unlikely to prevent future misconduct.

Australia.- The independent MP Andrew Wilkie has criticised the size of the recent fines imposed on Ladbrokes. The operator was fined AU$78,540 by Northern Territory Racing Commission for failing to limit the damage caused by a former customer who stole from clients to fuel his gambling addiction. 

However, Wilkie said the fine imposed on Ladbrokes would be “lost in the company’s margin of error” and that it would not prevent future misconduct. He said such fines could be counterproductive and send the wrong message to the sports betting industry. 

He said fines should hurt a company financially so much that shareholders would ask the board to ensure the same mistakes would not be repeated. He argues that the case demonstrates the necessity of his private member’s bill, which would require gambling companies to report suspicious transactions to the financial crime authority, Austrac.

He said: “In the case of Ladbrokes, with my bill, the company would be required to pay all the money that Fineff lost back to the people he stole from.”

The bill has not been selected for debate in the federal parliament and may pass off the notice paper soon

Meanwhile, Financial Counselling Australia’s director of Policy and Campaigns, Lauren Levin, told The Guardian: “The regulator hasn’t explained why it is treating multiple breaches of Ladbrokes failing to identify problem gambling red flags as a single breach.

“Why hasn’t the regulator treated each ridiculously large deposit that Fineff made as a separate event? On every one of those occasions over the two years, someone made a decision to look away. This has let the business off the hook.”

In February, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) fined the Australian online sportsbook BetDeluxe AU$50,172 (US$34,400) for breaching rules intended to protect people from spam. Amused Group, the operator of the BetNation brand, has been fined AU$13,770 for sending a promotional offer to hundreds of customers who had asked to be excluded from betting..

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