Big penalties for business that broke consumer spamming laws

By our News Team | 2022

Online betting business which sent out 150 000 unwanted marketing messages is ordered pay US$2,6-million and review all operating procedures.

An online sports betting business in Australia that spammed consumers by sending them more than 150 000 unwanted emails and text messages has received a large penalty and must refund customers.

In all, the company called Sportsbet will pay AUD$3.7-million (US$2,6-million), comprising the largest penalty of its kind ever issued in the country, plus refunds to people who placed bets after receiving the marketing messages that they had tried, but failed, to unsubscribe from. 

Around 37 000 consumers received the spam messages, which offered either incentives to gamble or alerts about upcoming horse races, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) said in a press statement. In addition, Sportsbet continued to send out the spam messages even after the Authority had asked it not to do so.

Marketing Ethics

Image by Besteonlinecasinos from Pixabay

Australia has strict laws protecting members of the public from marketing excesses by businesses, including spamming and failing to allow people to unsubscribe from marketing messaging.

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.

Messages were sent to people with gambling problems

“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 stated.

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

In addition to the largest penalty given by the ACMA for breaches of spam laws, the ACMA has accepted a comprehensive three-year court-enforceable undertaking from Sportsbet. The undertaking commits it to appoint an independent arbiter to oversee a compensation program to refund customers who lost money on bets made that were associated with the spam.

The undertaking will also require Sportsbet to appoint an independent consultant to review its procedures, policies, training and systems, and implement recommendations from the audit.

O’Loughlin said she was disappointed Sportsbet did not act as soon as they were aware of the problem.

“The ACMA contacted Sportsbet on several occasions leading up to the investigation to let the gambling provider know it may have compliance problems and it failed to take adequate action,” she noted.

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    Dr Kin Kariisa

    Group CEO - Next Media

    Dr. Kin Kariisa is an extraordinary force at the helm of Next Media Services, a conglomerate encompassing NBS TV, Nile Post, Sanyuka TV, Next Radio, Salam TV, Next Communication, Next Productions, and an array of other influential enterprises. His dynamic role as Chief Executive Officer exemplifies his unwavering commitment to shaping media, business, and community landscapes.
    With an esteemed academic journey, Dr. Kariisa’s accolades include an Honorary PhD in exemplary community service from the United Graduate College inTexas, an MBA from United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya, a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Huazong University in China, and a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics from Makerere University.
    Dr. Kariisa pursued PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. As a dynamic educator, he has shared his expertise as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at both Makerere University and Radboud University.

    Dr Kin did his PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radbond University in Nigmegen, Netherlands. He previously served as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and Radbond University in Netherlands.

    Dr Kin did his postgraduate courses in Strategic Business Management, Strategic Leadership Communication and Strategies for Leading Successful Change Initiatives at Harvard University, Boston USA.

    • Other current and previous roles played by Dr Kin Kariisa:
    • Lecturer of e-Government and Information Security to graduate students at Makerere University, Kampala and Radbond University in the Netherlands
    • Director of Eco Bank Uganda Limited, one of the largest banks in Africa
    • Chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters, an umbrella industry association for all Television, Radio and online broadcasters in Uganda.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Nile Hotel International, that owns the leading hotel in Uganda, Kampala Serena Hotel.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Soliton Telmec Uganda, the leading telecom company in Optic fibre business managing over 80% of optic fibre in Uganda.