Ladbrokes Australia handed penalty for prepaid card scheme

Ladbrokes Australia has been handed a $26,690 penalty charge by Northern Territory’s Racing Commission as a response to the misuse of its Cash in Cards scheme.

Live at three events during the Summer, the product operated as a prepaid voucher loaded predominantly with a $20 value that could then be redeemed for those who already held an account with the operator. 

The Commission said it was ‘advised’ of possible wrongdoings at the Ladbrokes Talking Racing Luncheon and that Ladbrokes’ staff ‘provided assistance’ to help create new betting accounts utilising the Cash in Cards product.

The luncheon was an event held in Darwin that brought together racing enthusiasts and personalities for a look at the Australian racing industry.

Following inquiries, it was uncovered a total of 400 $20 Cash in Cards were distributed at the event and 207 cards were redeemed into a Ladbrokes’ betting account.

The issue lies with 64 of these Ladbrokes’ betting accounts which were created on or after the event.

Northern Territory regulations state: “Online gambling providers must not offer any credit, voucher or reward to a person to open a betting account or to an account holder as an inducement to refer another person to open a betting account.”

Ladbrokes responded to the regulators queries, explaining there was no “instruction or direction that the cards should be targeted at non-customers.”

The operator said its representatives were present to assist guests with enquiries and were not “directed or instructed to seek out non-customers.”

Furthermore, the firm claimed that the use of the word ‘inducement’ did not qualify for its original intentions of the Cash in Cards solution which was to “reward existing customers who attend functions Ladbrokes are involved with, and encourage them to carry out activity on their account.” 

The Commission decided the promotion itself is not a breach of the 2019 Code however the board did say it was “not satisfied” of the target audience suggested by Ladbrokes.

“At the Ladbrokes Talking Racing Luncheon held in Darwin on 1 August 2019 alone, over 10% and edging towards 20% of the persons who did not have a betting account with Ladbrokes at the time of receiving a Cash in Card, subsequently opened a betting account and became customers of Ladbrokes,” read the report. 

“Given this relatively high rate of take-up to open a new account in order to redeem the monetary value of the Cash in Card, the Commission has formed the view that these persons were incentivised to open a betting account with Ladbrokes as a result of being offered a Cash in Card and were not simply an accidental or unintended byproduct of the promotion.”

The Commission continued to make the point that had a system been in place to ensure this promotional product cannot be used by new customers, the issue wouldn’t have been raised.