Tabcorp penalised over illegal gambling promotion in NSW

4 July 2019

Australian gambling operator Tabcorp has been issued with a financial penalty of AU$14,000 (£7,832/€8,726/US$9,846) after being found guilty of offering an illegal gambling inducement in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW).

The prosecution, ordered by Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court, follows an investigation by Liquor & Gaming NSW into a promotion that appeared on the Tabcorp mobile application on October 4 last year.

The ad in question was in reference to a special offer on the Ultimate Fighting Championship mixed martial arts match between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor, offering customers money back as a free bet if their fighter lost.

The advert featured the text: "HEAD TO HEAD SPECIAL – KHABIB VS MCGREGOR – if your fighter loses by decision, bonus bet back up to $50".

However, the NSW Betting and Racing Act states that it is an offence to publish a gambling ad that “includes any inducement to participate, or participate frequently, in any gambling activity (including an inducement to open a betting account)”.

The Act also makes clear that promotions can only be offered in the state of NSW to consumers who hold a registered betting account. Liquor & Gaming NSW noted that in this instance the promotion was available to anyone who viewed the app without being needing to first log on to a Tabcorp betting account.   

Chief Magistrate Graeme Henson said that the sentence needed to recognise the adverse social impacts of gambling, which extends to families. He also rejected a claim by Tabcorp that the case involved extenuating circumstances. 

Tabcorp pleaded guilty to the charges and accepted the financial penalty. The maximum fine that can be administered for breaching this law is AU$55,000 per offence, while company directors can also be criminally prosecuted.

“Betting operators have an obligation to ensure that all advertising complies with NSW laws on gambling advertising," Liquor & Gaming NSW director of compliance operations Sean Goodchild said. "Inducements are known to increase the risk of gambling harm so any breaches are taken seriously.”

NSW has been clamping down on illegal gambling and related activities in recent months as part of a wider initiative to promote responsible operations across the state.

In May, online betting operator PlayUp was ordered to pay AU$7,500 for illegally targeting a self-excluded former customer, while both PointsBet and Sportschamps have recently been penalised for promoting sign-up bonuses.

Last week, it was revealed that the Office of Responsible Gambling for NSW is to invest AU$1.3m in a number of projects designed to help protect consumers from gambling-related harm.

The funds will support initiatives such as a new website to enable consumers to self-exclude from multiple gambling venues, as well as online courses that will provide education and research on responsible gambling and preventing and reducing harm.

In May, the Office also provided around AU$400,000 in grants to fund research into reducing and preventing gambling-related harm.

Image: Max Pixel