Australian online sports betting operator Sportsbet has been told to give a full refund to a customer who had self-excluded from gambling but was allowed to open a new account, wagering away nearly A$150,000.
Self-exclusion tools allow problem gamblers to voluntarily ban themselves from gambling for a certain period of time or permanently. In regulated markets, these tools are supposed to prevent self-excluded gamblers from being able to use their existing accounts or open new accounts with licensed sports betting operators.
However, in the case of the Australian bettor, who was referred to as Mr XXXX in ruling documents, when he tried to open a new account with Sportsbet a couple of months after he had self-excluded from gambling, the operator failed to cross-match his details and allowed him to place bets on its platform.
Mr XXXX’s case was handled by the Northern Territory Racing Commission. Sportsbet is one of many Australia-facing online gambling companies to have been licensed in the Northern Territory due to business-friendly conditions, including lower taxes and fees than elsewhere in Australia, but to have been taking bets from all over the country.
Operator Ordered to Return Bets to Customer
In its ruling from last week, the Northern Territory Racing Commission said that Sportsbet failed to comply with the conditions of its sports betting license from the regulator as the operator “did not have at the time appropriate self-exclusion facilities and procedures in place to allow persons to self-exclude.”
The commission also said that it found it appropriate for Sportsbet to refund its customer’s losses. Mr XXXX had not have a Sportsbet account before his self-exclusion and only attempted to register with the sports betting site after self-excluding.
The Racing Commission ruled that the fault was in the gambling operator’s systems when they failed to identify the gambler on the self-exclusion database.
Mr XXXX is now set to be repaid A$93,082.04 as the ruling took in consideration money already withdrawn from his account.
The Sportsbet gambling customer said that he wanted to make the operator accountable because his gambling problems had “a very, very bad impact” on him and his family. Mr XXXX also noted that he had not gambled for a “significant period of time” and he lost a “hugely significant” amount of money after Sportsbet failed to identify him as a self-excluded gambler.
Australia’s Federal Government has been working on a nationwide self-exclusion register for more than five years now. MPs passed legislation on the issue last year, but it seems that the self-exclusion system would not be up and running for at least another year.
Commenting on the recent regulatory scolding, Sportsbet said in a statement that it accepts the Racing Commission’s findings and “will promptly refund the customer.”
The statement read further that the operator has “proactively evolved [its] internal procedures since the case was first identified a number of years ago” and that non-customers are now available to self-exclude from Sportsbet’s platform.
The sports betting brand is owned by major Irish gambling group Flutter Entertainment.
Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date on the day’s top casino news stories