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Tabcorp fined AU$370 417 for underage gambling

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The Melbourne Magistrates’ Court in Victoria has ordered Tabcorp to pay AU$370,417 (PS192,777/EUR227,984/US$246,247) after the group pled guilty to 43 charges for failing to prevent a minor from gambling in the Australian state.

In May 2023, the Victoria Gambling and Casino Control Commission announced that Tabcorp had been charged. The charges were filed against Tabcorp in May 2023.

The venues of concern were Albion Charles Hotel, Brunswick Club, Coburg TAB Agency, Cramers Hotel, Doncaster Hotel, Duke of Edinburgh Hotel, Edwardes Lake Hotel, Excelsior Hotel, Northcote TAB Agency, Olympic Hotel, Parkview Hotel, Preston Hotel, and Rose Shamrock & Thistle Hotel.

Tabcorp was found guilty by the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court this week. The court ruled Tabcorp was guilty of underage gambling, but also that it failed to supervise properly its electronic betting machines (EBTs)

Annette Kimmitt, CEO of the VGCCC said that Tabcorp’s violations were extremely serious. They reflect both a failure on the part of Tabcorp to adequately protect minors against gambling risks, and a general lack in vigilance.

The gambling providers, and the staff that works for them are at the forefront of our effort to stop underage gaming. Their duty is to check IDs rigorously and to supervise gambling to make sure minors cannot access their services. It is important that they are vigilant in protecting young people against the dangers of gambling.

It is important that the entire gambling industry takes this matter seriously and understands the seriousness of the situation.

These failures threaten the safety and integrity of the industry.

Victoria cracks down on gambling by underage youth

This is just the latest in a series of actions taken by authorities to combat underage gambling, and failure to monitor EBTs. All of this is related to the alleged violations of the Gambling Regulation Act, 2003.

The VGCCC imposed a fine on Tabcorp in September 2023 for the underage gambling that occurred over the previous eight months. The VGCCC will charge Tabcorp and several venues in September 2023 for underage gambling over the past eight months.

A magistrate fined AU$25.300 to the Preston Hotel for allowing a 16-year-old boy to use EBTs to gamble in 2022.

Tabcorp is facing 72 total charges. The operators could face fines of up to $1m if found guilty. Tabcorp could be fined $969,236.

Tabcorp has been subjected to other actions in Victoria. Tabcorp was ordered by the VGCCC in January to convert most of their EBTs into cashless transactions. The VGCCC ordered Tabcorp to make most of its EBTs in the state cashless.

As of the end of January, about 70% of Tabcorp’s 1,800 EBTs in Victoria accept only vouchers. Players must buy a cashless machine voucher to access the machines. They are then asked to show their ID to verify that they have the legal age for gambling on EBTs.

Tabcorp faces other charges in Victoria

Tabcorp has been hit by two major issues in the last 12 months. The first was the underage gambling scandal.

Tabcorp was fined a record AU$1.0m by the VGCCC in September for its actions during a system failure that occurred in 2020. Tabcorp’s Wagering and Betting System went down 7 November 2020 during the Spring Racing Carnival.

VGCCC criticized Tabcorp for its actions. It cited that the operator had not provided adequate information regarding the outage, and questioned its behavior during the investigation. Tabcorp’s “repeated refusal” to follow directions was criticized as well.

The fine at the time was the highest ever issued for gambling in Victoria. Rumotel’s potential fine against the Tower Hotel operator may be higher.

Rumotel may face an extra fine up to $1.4m if it is found guilty of violating the rules for responsible gambling. VGCCC has yet to confirm if the fine is going to be issued despite an announcement made in October.

Tabcorp gains from exclusive rights

The charges brought against Tabcorp are a serious blow to the operator. There is no doubt about the future of Tabcorp in Victoria, after it secured rights recently.

Tabcorp won the exclusive right to wagering in Victoria, for the next twenty years. Tabcorp will begin its licence in August 2024 – immediately following the expiration of its exclusive license.

Tabcorp will be paying the Victorian government over $1.00bn in the next 20 years. It is authorised to carry out betting in Victoria. This includes the exclusive right to accept bets outside racetracks.

If the new license terms had been applied to 2023 on a pre-forma basis, then group EBITDA could have increased by $140m.

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