Northern Territory Gambling Watchdog Fines BetEasy AU$50,000 for Breaches of Problem Gambling Check Rules

Olivia Cole

The gambling regulatory body of the Northern Territory has imposed a fine of over AU$50,000 to the Australian corporate bookmaker BetEasy, which operates online racing and sports betting platforms, after the operator had allowed a self-excluded gambling addict to open a new account and lose about AU$720,000.

The Northern Territory Racing Commission has held an investigation into BetEasy. As part of the probe, it evaluated a private contractual agreement between the gambling operator and a person who remained unnamed and was only referred to as “the gambler”.

As a result of the investigation, the gambling watchdog found that the online betting company had violated two of its licencing conditions and failed to make sure there had been sufficient customer checks in place in order to identify gambling addiction. The Commission also found that BetEasy may have also breached a third licensing condition.

As it was revealed by the gambling and racing regulator of the Northern Territory, the gambler was a former customer of BetEasy’s predecessor CrownBet and although they decided to opt-out from gambling services by participating in a self-exclusion scheme, they were known to both BetEasy and its affiliates.

BetEasy faced an AU$26,860 fine for each of the two confirmed licence breaches. Also, the gambling regulatory body of the Northern Territory referred the customer identification and account opening practices of the company to the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUTRAC).

BetEasy’s Affiliate Facilitates the Establishment of Self-Excluded Gambler’s New Customer Account

According to the Northern Territory Racing Commission’s report, one of the gambling operator’s affiliates, John Dow, got in contact with the customer in January 2019 and offered them to help them create a new account under their wife’s name. As the regulator found, John Dow facilitated the establishment of the new customer’s account and also arranged some free bets.

Some employees of BetEasy noticed that the self-excluded gambler’s shared the same residential address as the new customer account only a day after the account was opened. However, the operator’s identity verification check that took place 5 days later saw the account holder’s identity verified.

Eventually, the gambler’s losses rose to AU$719,350, which were sought from BetEasy by both the gambler and his wife.

The gambling operator has claimed that John Dow was not an employee of BetEasy but rather an affiliate of the company, so the operator could not be held liable for the establishment of the new customer account and the player’s losses.

Reportedly, the online gambling company and the gambler reached a private agreement over their dispute in April 2021, only a day before the issue had to be brought to the Northern Territory’s gambling watchdog for a hearing.

BetEasy Faces NT Racing Commission’s Criticism for Unwillingness to Take Responsibility

BetEasy has faced harsh criticism from the Northern Territory Racing Commission because it had been reluctant to take responsibility for its affiliate’s actions in facilitating the establishment of a new customer account of a player who already chose to exclude themselves from gambling services. As the report of the regulatory body’s report says, the Commission believes that the licensee should accept responsibility for its affiliate’s activities and its unwillingness to do so did not reflect well on the company’s reputation.

According to the gambling watchdog of the Northern Territory, the conversations held between BetEasy staff and John Doe on the phone should have raised red flags, especially when the account holder was referred to as a male by Mr Dow, who has also shared that it is the account holder’s husband who was using the account and was even a gold VIP customer.

The investigation found evidence that BetEasy failed to comply with the Code of Practice for Responsible Online Gambling on multiple occasions. Furthermore, the Australian online gambling operator was also found to have breached the terms and conditions of its operating licence. It also failed to ensure adequate systems in place in order to identify problem gambling.

As mentioned above, a third licence condition may have also been breached by BetEasy, according to the Commission. The gambling watchdog found that the gambling operator did not have adequate customer identification processes in place to prevent possible circumvention of its systems.

Apart from imposing a monetary penalty to the gambling company and referring its account opening and customer identification practices to the AUSTRAC, the gambling regulatory body also said that it would take the matter to the Government of the Northern Territory and would insist on the new laws to replace the existing Racing and Betting Act. The state’s Racing Commission explained that the new gambling legislation would make sure affiliates’ responsibility is assigned to gambling operating licence holders, regardless of any possible contractual agreements between the parties.

Olivia Cole

Olivia Cole

Olivia Cole has worked as a journalist for several years now. Over the last couple of years she has been engaged in writing about a number of industries and has developed an interest for the gambling market in the UK.

Daniel Williams
Author: Wanda Peters