Betfair Australia which is owned by Crown Resorts will not be very happy with a ruling that requires the online operator to pay back $150,000 to one of its customers. A landmark ruling in Australia has turned the spotlight on potential breaches of license conditions committed by online gambling providers down under.
The verdict sends a strong message to iGaming operators in Australia who ignore red flags and continue to encourage problem gamblers to place bets via their online gambling portals.
Betfair Failed to Identify ‘Red-Flag’ Indicators
The Northern Territory Racing Commission has ordered online gambling site Betfair Australia to repay $150,000 to a problem gambler after neglecting multiple red flags regarding his behavior which has resulted in him losing a significant amount of money.
The incident occurred in the month of February when the complainant asked Betfair to transfer $150,000 from his betting account to his bank. Before the transaction could go through, the gambler went on a spree and ended up losing as much as $190,000. He quickly decided that it was better for him to put a stop to the bank transfer and asked Betfair to reverse the transaction and credit those funds back to his account.
Betfair obliged and credited the cash into the desperate punter’s betting account. He would go on to gamble and lose $145,000 on the same day. The following day, the customer gambled and lost the remaining $5000 which Betfair left in his bank account.
In its ruling, the NT Racing Commission said Betfair failed to identify potential problem gambling indicators which included changes in gambling patterns, gambling for longer periods of time, as well as increases in deposits, exhibited by the customer.
The complainant had also put himself on the self-exclusion list in the past with the full knowledge of Betfair Australia. The Commission ruled that by putting himself on the self-exclusion list, it placed an obligation to Betfair to carry out a thorough review of the customer’s gambling activity up to the time when he requested to reverse the cash-out transaction.
Betfair Should Have Suspended the Complainant’s Account
Had Betfair conducted the necessary review, it would have been known that the complainant previously lost significant sums, higher than the $190,000 in just one day. The NT Racing Commission found Betfair should have identified these red flags and suspended the customer’s betting account.
The recent decision is considered one of the toughest ever handed down against an online gambling provider in the country, according to gambling reform campaigners and insiders in the industry.
Lauren Levin, Policy Director of Financial Counseling Australia believes that the verdict will serve as a turning point for the online gambling industry and will send a strong signal to online gambling firms to comply with their responsibilities in protecting customers from the harms of gambling addiction.
Levin said financial counselors have become witnesses to the adverse effects of problem gambling, including suicides and broken families. It does not only affect the individual involved but also the people connected to the problem gambler.
Calls for Online Wagering Reforms
The landmark verdict comes as Australia moves forward with its plans to roll out new online gambling standards across the nation. Campaigners are also calling for more stringent measures and tougher requirements for wagering sites to carry out checks and monitor deposit transactions made by heavy spenders to ensure their safety.
Both the federal government and state governments are also proposing a gambling legislation overhaul that would see stronger consumer protections. A national self-exclusion scheme is also being looked at which would help in addressing the issue of problem gambling in the country.
Betfair Stays Silent
Betfair has declined to comment on the verdict and has kept mum on whether or not it would appeal the decision. In its defense, Betfair argued it could not have reasonably known that the complainant was a problem gambler, saying that the customer never divulged that he had gambling issues and that the company did not find any potential problem gambling indicator in the complainant’s gambling activity.
The company went on to say that it generally refused to grant the customer’s request to reverse a withdrawal but that it made an exception because of the customer’s longstanding loyalty to the company.
The Commission said Betfair had for the third time in 18 months, breached its license conditions and as a result was fined an additional $13,175, on top of the $150,000 refund.

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