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BlueBet’s shares fell 8.9% to A$0.26 today (15 April) after an Australian regulator found the operator to be in breach of advertising rules.

The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) fined the operator A$50,000 (€30,400) for gambling advertising breaches today.

The regulator found BlueBet guilty of 43 regulatory breaches involving displaying gambling advertising on a public road.

BlueBet was charged in August 2023 after a VGCCC-led investigation following a complaint from a member of the public.

During a two-week period in August and September 2022, the operator saw its ads appear on digital billboards on five roads.

These were offences under the Victorian Gambling Regulation Act 2003, which bans ads on or above public roads.

BlueBet defended itself by claiming it was not aware that it was breaching the law.

Magistrate Greg Thomas said he found it difficult to accept BlueBet’s argument considering the billboards’ prime position to target males aged 15-54.

Thomas did not record a conviction, but said that if the breaches were accidental this demonstrated a high degree of negligence by BlueBet.

The magistrate said he decided to reduce the fine given BlueBet’s guilty plea, cooperation with the VGCCC and changes implemented.

VGCCC CEO Annette Kimmitt AM said: “Gambling advertising has no place on public roads where it is readily visible to children and other vulnerable groups.

“These places are especially difficult to avoid as part of day-to-day activities. This decision sends a clear message to wagering providers that flout these protections for our community.” 

BlueBet and Betr combine

The fine comes after the announcement that BlueBet and Betr are to combine in an all-stock merger.

The rationale for the deal is to merge both operators’ customer bases while transferring customers onto BlueBet’s proprietary tech stack.

According to media reports, the business’ platform is considered to be more robust that Betr’s previous BetMakers-supplied tech.

Some have also suggested combining the companies may help them gain scale ahead of planned regulatory changes.

Total ad ban under consideration

The Australian government is widely considered to be planning on implementing a total advertising ban.

This follows last year’s publication of the Murphy Report, which recommended such a ban to reduce gambling harms.

The federal government’s work in this area has proved more complex than initially expected, according to a report from WAtoday.

The federal government has reportedly engaged Nicholls MMC to assist it.

The regulatory advisory business wrote to media organisations last month to test the waters on how an ad ban could be implemented.

Unnamed media executives quoted in the paper claimed a total ad ban could take up to a decade to fully put into place.

There continues to be strong political will for an ad ban, with both the public and most politicians behind such a measure.

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