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Victoria issues warning over sports club sponsorship incentives

| By Richard Mulligan
Victoria’s gambling regulator has demanded that gaming operators cease using sports club partnerships to attract new players.
Crown Melbourne Victoria casino

The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) said it has uncovered incentives being offered that breach Victoria gambling rules.

It said some operators are entering into agreements with sporting clubs and inducing their members to create gambling accounts. These inducements link financial incentives to each member of the club that signs up.

Some operators breach Victoria gambling rules

Providers are prohibited from offering incentives to open an account or refer another person under Gambling Regulation Act 2003. Within that legislation, Section 4.7.10 covers any credit, voucher, reward or other benefit.

The Commission said such actions would also be considered a breach of operators’ “social licence”. This runs in tandem with their legal licence in Victoria.

“The VGCCC demands wagering service providers cease promoting their products in this manner as they may be in breach of legislation by doing so, in addition to being inconsistent with their social licence to minimise harm,” the VGCCC said in a statement.

“The VGCCC doesn’t just hold gambling providers to the minimum letter of the law – but their social licence as well.”

Clubs asked to be mindful of community expectations

Sports clubs must be mindful of community expectations around encouraging members to sign up to gambling products, the body added.

“Sporting clubs need to be mindful of community expectations around incentivising members, and potentially junior members, to gamble,” it said. “We encourage sporting clubs to refrain from entering into such sponsorship deals which may harm members and may constitute illegal behaviour by the wagering provider.”

The warning is the regulator’s latest attempt at restricting gambling’s expansion within the state.

The VGCCC took over as the state’s regulator in July of 2022 with a mandate to minimise gambling harm and problem gambling.

In June, the VGCCC said operators would be responsible for preventing and minimising gambling harm. It said it would take a zero-tolerance approach to those that deliberately contravene their obligations.

Victoria recently banned betting on all youth sports competitions. In another recent move, Victoria recently announced a suite of new gambling reforms aimed at reducing harms from “pokies”.

Victoria announced the reforms following the Royal Commission inquiry into malpractice at Crown Melbourne. 

In April 2022, the Commission found the casino “unsuitable” to hold a licence in the state. It also found that the casino engaged in conduct which was “illegal, dishonest, unethical and exploitative”.

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