Sportsbet has been forced to pay a record $2.5 million in infringement notices and has also agreed $1.2 million in customer refunds after the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) found it had sent marketing messages to people who had tried to unsubscribe.
Between January 2020 and March 2021, ACMA found Sportsbet sent more than 150,000 texts and 37,000 emails to consumers who had tried to unsubscribe, and more than 3,000 texts with no unsubscribe function. The messages included incentives to place bets and alerts about upcoming races.
The messages violated spam laws. Sportsbet has made a legally enforceable undertaking to refund customers who lost money on bets associated with the spam.
ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said in a statement that Sportsbet’s actions “had the real potential to contribute to financial and emotional harm”. “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”, she said. “Sportsbet is a large and sophisticated company which should have robust systems in place to comply with spam laws and protect the interests of its customers.”
In a statement to multiple media outlets, a spokesperson for Sportsbet said the company accepted the findings and apologised to affected customers. The spokesperson said the non-compliance “resulted from technical and systems failures that regrettably meant not all customer unsubscribe requests were actioned in a timely manner… [Sportsbet] is committed to ensuring that past failings are not repeated”.