The charges relate to BlueBet displaying three gambling ads on billboards in Victoria over a fortnight last year. Adverts appeared between 29 August 2022 and 11 September 2022 in the Australian state.
According to the VGCCC, this was in breach of state laws. The regulator highlighted section 4.7.1 of Victoria’s Gambling Regulation Act 2003, which bans static gambling ads from appearing in certain locations.
Prohibited sites include on public transport infrastructure, within 150 metres of a school’s perimeter and on or above a public road, road infrastructure or road reserve.
A single breach of law incurs 120 penalty points, with each unit worth $184.92 at the time of the offence. BlueBet was charged with 43 breaches of this section, meaning its total penalty could be almost $1.0m.
The final figure is subject to the outcome of a court hearing. The VGCCC said it would not comment further until after the court hears the case.
“All wagering service providers advertising in Victoria must comply with relevant legislation,” VGCCC regulatory services director Jason Cremona said. “Where we detect non-compliance – especially non-compliance that can exacerbate gambling harm – we will take a zero-tolerance approach and use all the enforcement powers available to us.
“We launched our investigation after receiving an online complaint about the billboard advertisements from a member of the public.
“We encourage all members of the community to use our complaints and tip-off portals to let us know when they believe they have witnessed non-compliant behaviour by gambling providers. The community can rest assured we will act wherever we can.”
Gambling reform in Victoria
The announcement comes amid major changes to gambling rules and regulations in the state of Victoria.
Earlier this month, the VGCCC announced a blanket ban on betting on all under-19 sports competitions. This applies to sporting events where all participants are minors and prohibits betting on the individual performance of athletes aged under 18 playing in senior or junior events.
This includes wagering on outcomes such as first goal scorer or first wicket taken, when the player is a minor. However, bets can still be made on team outcomes in senior sports when minors are playing.
Victoria last month also announced new reforms aimed at reducing harms from electronic gaming machines.
Changes include mandatory pre-commitment limits, identity verification through carded play, reduced load-up limit, curfews in venues enforced between 4am and 10am and reduced spin speed.
The reforms remain subject to final approval.