The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) has fined Tabcorp a record AU$1.0m (PS506,986/EUR592,679/US$636,096) over its conduct during a major system outage in 2020.
Tabcorp’s Wagering and Betting System, or WBS, went down 7 November 2020 during the Spring Racing Carnival. The service was unavailable for about 36 hours.
The Wagering and Betting Licence and Agreement stipulates that the WBS has to be available continuously. The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VGCCC predecessor) investigated the incident.
After Tabcorp failed to provide the regulator with adequate information regarding the outage, directions were issued.
Tabcorp is criticized for not following instructions
VGCCC stated that Tabcorp’s behavior during the investigation, and its response to directions, impacted their ability to understand what caused the major outage. The regulator stated that it was not confident that a similar problem would not occur again.
The VGCCC conducted a further investigation and found that Tabcorp had not complied with the first directive, as it did not produce a reply that confirmed WBS’s business continuity plans and disaster recovery measures established following the outage “were fit for purpose”.
The VGCCC stated that Tabcorp did not comply with the second directive as it had submitted a report in compliance four months past the deadline.
Tabcorp fined for “unacceptable conduct”
In its ruling on the case the VGCCC stated that the seriousness and severity of the violation warranted an unprecedented fine by the regulator. The VGCCC cited Tabcorp’s “repeated refusal” to follow directions.
Fran Thorn, chair of the VGCCC, said: “We won’t tolerate licensees who aren’t forthcoming and don’t cooperate when we investigate.”
Tabcorp failed to provide us with the information we needed about its business continuity and disaster-recovery capabilities. Tabcorp’s failures to comply with the directions has led to today’s fine.
All entities that we regulate, no matter how large or small, have a duty to be honest and open with the Commission. They must also follow its legal directions. We will not tolerate any attempts to frustrate or impede our investigations.
Victoria clamps down on violations of regulatory laws
Tabcorp has become the latest operator in recent months to be punished by the VGCCC as it continues to crack down on violations.
The Australian Leisure and Hospitality Group was fined $550,000 last month for violating state gambling laws.
The regulator found 220 gaming machines that were not using the YourPlay pre-commitment system. YourPlay must be installed on all gaming machines in the state. YourPlay lets players set time limits or limit their money spent, and track machine play.
BlueBet, which was also charged in August for violating advertising rules, could face a fine up to $945.187.
BlueBet placed three advertisements on billboards across Victoria for a period of a week last year.
The VGCCC stated that this was a violation of state laws which ban static gambling advertisements from appearing in certain places.
Sites that are prohibited include those on infrastructure for public transport, within 150 meters of the perimeter of an educational institution, and above or on a road, road infrastructure, or road reserve.
State reforms that are sweeping
All of this comes in the context of major reforms to Victoria’s gambling laws.
The Royal Commission investigation into Crown Melbourne’s malpractice led to these findings. The Commission ruled in April 2022 that the casino was “unsuitable” for a license to operate within the state. The Commission also stated that the casino had engaged in a conduct which was “illegal and dishonest”, unethical, and exploitative.
The VGCCC reminded gaming operators last week to stop using partnerships with sports clubs to attract new players. The regulator discovered that some incentives offered by gaming operators were in violation of Victoria gambling laws.
Some operators have agreements with clubs to encourage their members to open gambling accounts. The incentives are linked to the financial incentives for each club member who signs up.