Tabcorp in Trouble for Repeatedly Allowing Minor to Gamble

Posted on: September 19, 2023, 06:54h. 

Last updated on: September 19, 2023, 12:32h.

Tabcorp is having a rough September, with Australia’s leading betting and gambling operator experiencing a variety of ups and downs. The latest is another slip in the wrong direction, thanks to new underage gambling charges against it by the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC).

A Tab betting sign outside a shop in Northcote, Victoria, Australia
A Tab betting sign outside a shop in Northcote, Victoria, Australia. Tabcorp faces new fines after an investigation uncovered underage gambling. (Image: SignManager via Google Maps)

Earlier this month, Tabcorp received a six-figure fine for an outage it experienced three years ago. It then settled an outstanding disagreement with the Australian Tax Office that saw it win a refund of around AU$83 million (US$53.2 million).

Then there’s the case of the Tabcorp executive who shared privileged company information with her husband in an insider trading scheme. However, those two scandals pale in comparison to the revelation that a 16-year-old was able to repeatedly place wagers at Tabcorp-linked locations across the country last year.

Responsible Gaming Controls Out the Window

The unnamed minor was reportedly able to bet at various Aussie locations last year on at least 30 occasions. An announcement from the VGCCC revealed that Tabcorp now faces up to 57 charges because of the lapse of oversight.

Of those, there are 27 counts of underage gambling. Other charges relate to the company’s inability to comply with long-standing regulations and failure to provide adequate supervision of gambling areas.

The gambler allegedly made a number of trips to various hotels that offer gambling activity, and at least one Tab betting agency in Northcote, Victoria, between September and November of last year. It seems that no one stopped him or asked him to prove he was at least 18, the minimum age for gambling in the state, as he made his way to the sports betting sections.

Tabcorp could receive a fine of as much as AU$698,998 (US$450,644) for its failures. The VGCCC is still wrapping up its investigation, but calls underage gambling one of the “most serious harms” possible.

The gaming regulator isn’t singling out Tabcorp this time. It’s also going after the venues where the minor was able to gamble. These include the Olympic Hotel, the Brunswick Club, the Edwardes Lake Hotel, the Parkview Hotel, the Albion Charles Hotel, the Doncaster Hotel, and the Rose Shamrock & Thistle Hotel.

If the VGCCC determines those entities are guilty, they could face a combined fine of AU$1 million (US$644,700). Endeavor Group, which owns the Doncaster, the Albion Charles, and the Rose Shamrock, said in a statement that it’s cooperating with the investigation.

More Control Coming

Because some gaming operators, as well as commercial businesses, are unable to comply with regulations without close supervision, the need for automatic controls is on the rise. This includes the use of facial recognition and cashless gaming, both the subject of pilot programs in Australia.

Most electronic gaming machines and sports betting kiosks can now include the capability to power up and down automatically in accordance with established regulatory operating hours. The VGCCC is one of several regulators that has campaigned for the introduction of the technology.

As long as venues allow 16-year-olds to gamble (or, for Star Entertainment, 12-year-olds), the need for additional automatic controls will only grow. This is part of the reason why Victoria is increasing its responsible gambling initiatives, and why the state is soon going to be home to one of the strictest gambling markets in Australia.