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Victoria operators face charges over underage gambling

| By Robert Fletcher
The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) has charged Tabcorp, along with eight venues in the Australian state, for allegedly allowing minors to gamble on electronic betting terminals.

Tabcorp faces a total of 54 charges including 27 counts of underage gambling and failing to supervise terminals. A further 27 charges have been filed against the venues and a Tabcorp-owned TAB agency.

Venues in question in the case are the Olympic Hotel, Brunswick Club, Edwardes Lake Hotel, Parkview Hotel, Albion Charles Hotel, Doncaster Hotel, Rose Shamrock & Thistle Hotel and Northcote TAB Agency. 

The venue operators have been charged with allowing a minor to gamble, enabling a minor to enter a gaming machine area and failing to ensure machines were reasonably supervised. The TAB agency is charged with allowing a minor to gamble and failing to ensure reasonable supervision of terminals. 

All venue-linked incidents took place between 8 September and 1 November last year.

If found guilty, the operators face a maximum collective fine of more than AU$1.0m (£520,000/€603,000/US$644,000). Tabcorp could also face a fine of up to $699,000.

“One of the most serious harms is allowing minors to gamble,” VGCCC CEO Annette Kimmitt said. “All gambling venues must ensure they do not accept a bet from a minor and must ask for identification from anyone they suspect could be underage.”

The VGCCC says that all charges relate to breaching the Gambling Regulation Act 2003. The regulator will not be making any further comment at this time.

Victoria regulator clamping down on rule-breakers

The VGCCC has been rather busy in recent months issuing fines and sanctions to operators for breaching rules.

Prior to this case, the most recent charge came last week for Rumotel Pty Ltd, operator of the Tower Hotel. This was in relation to breaching gambling control rules in the state.

Tower Hotel faces 34 charges in Victoria for allegedly running gaming machines without the YourPlay mandatory pre-commitment technology installed. An additional charge was also filed over an alleged failure to ensure staff had completed compulsory training.

All Victoria licensees are required to install YourPlay on gaming machines. YourPlay allows users to set optional limits of time or money spent and keep track of their machine play.

The VGCCC last month also sanctioned Australian Leisure and Hospitality Group (ALH) for similar breaches.

Also in August, BlueBet was charged with breaching rules on advertising, with the operator facing a fine of up to $945,000. BlueBet displayed three gambling ads on billboards in Victoria over the course of a fortnight last year. 

The VGCCC said this was in breach of state laws that ban static gambling ads from appearing in certain locations. 

Tabcorp faces record $1.0m fine

On top of the underage gambling sanction, Tabcorp also faces a record fine of $1.0m. This is related to its conduct during a major system outage in 2020.

Tabcorp’s Wagering and Betting System went down during the 2020 Spring Racing Carnival. The service was unavailable for approximately 36 hours, although the Wagering and Betting Licence and Agreement requires it to be continuously available. 

The VGCCC blasted Tabcorp’s conduct during an investigation into the matter. It also hit out at the operator for its response to directions from the VGCCC over the case, which in turn has led to the fine.

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