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Tabcorp Faces Hefty Fine for Allowing Underage Gambling

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In late May, the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) announced it had filed multiple charges against Tabcorp for enabling child gambling. As of now, Australia’s largest gambling company, employing over 5,000 people, has been fined over AU$370,000 ($246,000) for failing to prevent a minor from gambling at several venues in Victoria.

The case revolves around a 17-year-old autistic teenager who was found to have gambled illegally on several occasions between May 2022 and October 2023 at 13 different venues. These venues included the Preston Hotel, Brunswick Hotel, Shoppingtown Hotel Doncaster, Olympic Hotel, Rose Shamrock, and Parkville Hotel, among others.

In response to these incidents, Tabcorp’s lawyers entered guilty pleas to 43 charges in the Magistrates’ Court in Melbourne. These charges were related to the company’s failure to prevent the minor from gambling, a clear violation of provincial gambling laws. The VGCCC noted that Tabcorp’s focus on creating the most engaging betting and entertainment experiences had compromised the integrity and safety of the gambling industry.

Despite Tabcorp admitting its shortcomings in preventing the minor from gambling and not adequately supervising its electronic betting terminals, a magistrate still imposed a fine of AU$274,000 ($182,200) without conviction. Additionally, Tabcorp was ordered to pay AU$96,417 ($64,100) in costs, bringing the total sanctions to AU$370,417 ($246,300). The magistrate had the authority to impose a maximum fine of AU$716,955 ($477,000).

Tabcorp has stated that it acknowledges the magistrate’s recognition of the significant measures the company has implemented to prevent minors from gambling at its venues. The company plans to continue investing in its Safer Gambling initiatives, emphasizing that preventing underage gambling remains a top priority for its board and executive team.

A spokesperson for Tabcorp mentioned that the company will continue to work closely with the VGCCC to support their efforts in maintaining community safety. Meanwhile, VGCCC’s chief executive, Annette Kimmitt, described Tabcorp’s breaches as severe failures that undermine the industry’s integrity and safety. Kimmitt stressed that providers and their staff are on the frontline of efforts to prevent minors from gambling and must rigorously check players’ IDs and supervise activities to ensure compliance.

In summary, Tabcorp’s failure to prevent a minor from gambling at multiple venues has resulted in significant fines and a commitment to enhancing its measures to ensure such incidents do not occur in the future.

Gambling Regulations in Australia and Protections Against Children’s Exposure to Gambling Ads

Australia has stringent gambling regulations designed to protect vulnerable groups, including children, from the potential harms associated with gambling. The National Consumer Protection Framework for Online Wagering sets out ten measures that online gambling providers must adhere to, such as offering self-exclusion options, implementing pre-commitment schemes, and promoting responsible gambling messages. Additionally, each state and territory in Australia has its own set of laws and regulatory bodies to oversee gambling activities. For instance, the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) enforces strict rules on age verification and advertising practices, ensuring that gambling operators do not target minors. Violations of these regulations can result in hefty fines and legal action, as seen in this recent case of Tabcorp.

In terms of advertising, Australia has implemented robust measures to shield children from gambling promotions. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) enforces rules that prohibit gambling ads from being broadcast during times when children are likely to be watching television, such as between 6:00 AM and 8:30 AM, and from 4:00 PM to 7:30 PM. Additionally, there are restrictions on gambling advertisements during live sports broadcasts, which are popular among younger audiences. Online platforms also follow strict guidelines to prevent children from being exposed to gambling content. For example, social media sites and websites must use age-gating mechanisms and targeted advertising to ensure that gambling promotions do not reach underage users. These measures aim to reduce the risk of children being influenced by gambling ads, thereby contributing to a safer and more responsible gambling environment in Australia.


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