As the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival kicks off, celebrating the coming of warm weather to southern climes with a month of horse racing, firms that offer internet betting in Australia are interested in getting all the business they can. Many online betting shops offer sign-up incentives to encourage new players to open betting accounts. These bonuses often come in the form of free bets.
In Victoria, however, such practice is forbidden, and three sports betting websites have been charged by the Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulaion (VCGR) for offering incentives to new customers.
The bookmakers in trouble are Luxbet (a subsidiary of Tabcorp), International All Sports (IASbet), and Eskander’s Betstar. IASbet offered the biggest incentives, rewarding new members with up to $1000 in free bets. Eskander’s Betstar offered $500, while Luxbet offered guaranteed odds on Roger Federer or Serena Williams to win the 2010 Australian Tennis Open.
All three of these online sportsbooks in Australia now face fines. The maximum penalty for each offence is $2,389. The actual punishment will be decided in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on December 2.
“It (is) important that all wagering service providers comply with laws aimed at protecting consumers from being attracted by irresponsible betting practices, especially at this time of the year,” said a statement released by the VCGR.
These rules about online sportsbook incentives are not present in all Australian gambling laws, but are specific to Victoria. These three bookmakers and other online sportsbooks in Australia (as well as foreign sports betting sites that accept Australian punters) will presumably continue to offer incentives to new members. It is a common practice worldwide, and is not banned in most regions.