Lottoland Plans to Sue Australia After ACMA Declares Offerings to be Illegal
The leading operator in the global “synthetic lottery” industry, Gibraltar-based Lottoland, is back in the news after the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) declared one of the latest innovations by the company, jackpot betting, to be an online game of chance and thereby illegal under the country’s revised online gambling laws, which have also created a ban on regulated poker in the country.
Lottoland’s official Aussie outlet, Lottoland Australia, has been in troubled waters with the gambling regulators before, as when it promised in late 2017 that it would comply with a ban on private companies offering wagering on lottery results. Such synthetic lotteries have long been despised by state-run lottery services the world over, who have asserted that allowing gamblers to purchase virtual duplicates of a nation’s or state’s lottery draws online undercuts their own business models and also robs consumers of full market protections.
In response to the ban, and in an attempt to stay in the Aussie market, Lottoland created its new jackpot betting product. Instead of being based on lottery draws, the new product determined its winning numbers by pulling psuedo-random numbers from financial markets at their opening times, including the New York Stock Exchange. Those numbers were then assembled into one long number, which then underwent a coded translation to produce the jackpot-betting product’s winners.
The product indeed skirted the ban on synthetic lottos basing their offerings on real product’s such as Australia’s official lottery, run by Tabcorp, but after an investigation by the ACMA into the situation, the agency said it didn’t matter: the products offered by Lottoland Australia are still a game of chance being offered online, and since these aren’t sports-betting products, they’re automatically illegal under Aussie law.
“The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) investigation found that several Lottoland online jackpot betting services were games of chance which are prohibited,” an ACMA official told The Sydney Morning Herald.
“These included the Mon and Wed Jackpot, Tue Jackpot, Thu Jackpot, US Millions, and US Power jackpot betting services.”
In response, Lottoland Australia has announced that it has filed suit in New South Wales, an Australian territory which includes Sydney. “We have decided to challenge ACMA in the Supreme Court because we believe their view on Jackpot Betting is wrong,” said Lottoland CEO Luke Brill, in a statement provided to several Australian news outlets.
“Lottoland’s Jackpot Betting products have been approved by the relevant licensing authorities,” Brill added, “and we believe they are fully compliant with Australian law.
“We have worked hard to adapt to recent changes to the law, and we are committed to providing exciting new products that our customers love.
“By taking this stand against ACMA, we are fighting for the rights of hundreds of thousands of Australians who enjoy the occasional flutter. We are fighting for freedom of choice.”
At first glance, it appears the firm will have an uphill battle. The investigation was powered in part by Lottoland Australia’s decision to broadly market the jackpot betting product to Aussie punters, including what the SMH termed “provocative TV advertisements”. The company claims to have built up a customer base of some 750,000 gamblers in the country.