L&GNSW: Bookmaker barriers to customer payments are unacceptable

L&GNSW: Bookmaker barriers to customer payments are unacceptable

New South Wales gambling operators who interfere with the customer payment experience can expect regulatory consequences, state authorities have informed Payment Expert.

After viewing a document from December 2023 detailing ‘observations of concerning behaviour by bookmakers’, Payment Expert and SBC News jointly reached out to the state regulator, Liquor & Gaming NSW (L&GNSW).

Of particular concern to L&GNSW is the placing of ‘unreasonable barriers’ on the customer journey and payment process. The regulator has observed barriers placed on the payment of winnings, as well as cases of account closure.

These account closures have sometimes seen operators charge customers an admin fee to withdraw funds from previously held accounts. The L&GNSW reiterated to SBC its December statement that this conduct is ‘unacceptable’.

“Such conduct is the result of bookmakers not considering what is expected of them by L&GNSW and the community,” an L&GNSW spokesperson informed SBC Media.

“Bookmakers are expected not to engage in conduct that could reasonably be expected to cause a person harm, even if the conduct is not explicitly prohibited by the legislative framework.”

In the event betting operators place said restrictions on customer accounts and the payments process, firms can expect L&GNSW to adopt a ‘more expansive compliance approach’.

Operators’ suitability to provide betting services may be called into question by the regulator, which added that it will also cooperate with and make referrals to other state and Australian regulators, such as NSW Fair Trading if a complaint relates to a bookmaker’s terms and conditions.

The regulator also can suspend or cancel electronic or telephone betting licences in the event of non-compliance with legal requirements. This could include interference in the payment journey.

“There are currently significant penalties for breaching the legislative framework,” the regulatory spokesperson continued.

“For example, wagering operators found guilty of promoting inducements to gamble are liable to maximum fines of up to $110,000 per offence for a corporation and $11,000 for an individual.  

“L&GNSW will develop additional regulatory tools to ensure all wagering operates in line with its expectations should existing tools be insufficient to disincentive the poor and unacceptable conduct.”

Payments have become a core focus of Australia’s regulatory approach towards gambling over the past year, against the backdrop of both the federal government and state authorities pursuing betting law reform.

At the federal level, the government of PM Anthony Albanese is introducing a ban on credit card payments for gambling, except for keno and lottery products. Meanwhile, New South Wales and Victoria have perhaps been the most active states when it comes to betting reform.

In the case of the latter, the state regulator recently ordered Tabcorp – one of Australia’s largest bookmakers – to adopt cashless payments at 70% of its retail betting terminals, due to an underage customer gambling at its venues.
To gain further insight into these changes, PE and SBCN reached out to Responsible Wagering Australia last week, gaining some comments from the trade body’s CEO, Kai Cantwell.