In a significant move by the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC), the prominent gambling operator Tabcorp, alongside eight other venues in the state, have been indicted for purportedly permitting underage individuals to engage in gambling activities on electronic betting machines.
Out of the multitude of charges, Tabcorp alone is being confronted with 54 separate accusations. These comprise 27 allegations related to underage betting and lack of terminal supervision. The remaining 27 accusations are directed towards the specific venues and a Tabcorp-affiliated TAB agency.
The venues drawn into this controversy are the Olympic Hotel, Brunswick Club, Edwardes Lake Hotel, Parkview Hotel, Albion Charles Hotel, Doncaster Hotel, Rose Shamrock & Thistle Hotel, and the Northcote TAB Agency.
The main allegations against these venue operators encompass permitting underage gambling, granting minors access to dedicated gaming areas, and neglecting the supervision of the gaming devices. The TAB agency, in particular, is being reproached for its alleged oversight in allowing minors to bet and not maintaining sufficient terminal supervision.
The incidents linked to the venues reportedly occurred between 8 September and 1 November of the previous year.
Penalties for such contraventions could be severe. The venue operators collectively risk facing fines surpassing AU$1.0m. Tabcorp itself might be liable for a penalty nearing $699,000 if proven guilty.
Emphasizing the gravity of the issue, VGCCC's CEO Annette Kimmitt remarked, “Minors gambling is among the most severe transgressions. Every gambling establishment must have mechanisms to prohibit bets from underage individuals, demanding identification wherever there's a hint of doubt.”
These charges are primarily linked to violations of the Gambling Regulation Act 2003. The VGCCC has decided to refrain from commenting further on the ongoing investigation.
VGCCC's Steadfast Approach
The VGCCC has displayed its commitment to ensuring adherence to gambling regulations by consistently issuing penalties and sanctions to operators over recent infractions.
For instance, just last week, Rumotel Pty Ltd, which operates the Tower Hotel, was accused of neglecting state-mandated gambling control measures, facing 34 charges. One significant violation was not incorporating the YourPlay system in its gaming machines, a feature that aids users in managing their betting habits.
Furthermore, the Australian Leisure and Hospitality Group (ALH) found itself in hot water recently over similar breaches, while BlueBet was slapped with hefty fines last August for advertising violations.
Tabcorp’s Additional Woes
In addition to its current legal challenges, Tabcorp is staring down a record-breaking $1.0m fine due to its behavior during a significant system breakdown in 2020. Their wagering system faltered during the 2020 Spring Racing Carnival, being offline for around 36 hours, despite having an agreement to maintain continuous availability. VGCCC's stringent review of this malfunction and Tabcorp's subsequent actions has resulted in this hefty fine proposal.