After multiple incidents of minor gambling, Tabcorp forced to make most terminals cashless in VIC

After multiple incidents of minor gambling, Tabcorp forced to make most terminals cashless in VIC

Photo: TAB, via Facebook.

From late this month around 70 per cent of Tabcorp's (ASX: TAH) 1,800 electronic betting terminals (EBTs) in Victoria will only accept vouchers, as regulators crack down on the bookmaker after it was revealed that a minor used them to gamble on multiple occasions.

Over the past eight months the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) has charged Tabcorp, along with nine venues, for offences related to allowing a minor within a gaming machine area, allowing a minor to gamble, and failing to reasonably supervise the terminals.

The ASX-listed company faces 72 such charges, and if found guilty would face a maximum fine of just under $1 million. The operators concerned would also face a maximum collective fine of more than $1 million.

The first case was heard in court last month with the Magistrate fining the Preston Hotel $25,300 for allowing the then 16-year-old to gamble on six occasions using Tabcorp's betting terminals between May and September 2022. 

The regulator alleges the same teenager gambled on 32 occasions at various venues between September and November 2022, and over September-October 2023.

In light of the findings and allegations, Tabcorp has issued a statewide direction that Tabcorp’s betting terminals cannot accept cash bets unless they are within five metres, and in the line of sight of the counter.

From 29 January, to use these terminals patrons must go to the counter to obtain a voucher, ensuring ID checking occurs where the person appears to be under 25. 

Tabcorp has also been directed to rollout an independent ‘mystery shopper’ program to ensure venues are appropriately checking ID. 

Failure to comply with the new requirements will result in an escalating series of penalties for those venues, including having all EBTs in the venue switched to voucher mode for six months and Tabcorp terminating agreements with the venues.

VGCCC CEO Annette Kimmitt AM said the strengthened requirements were a response to continued breaches, despite warnings to the industry.

"It is inexcusable to accept a bet from a minor and tougher actions are required to protect the community, especially children, from gambling harm,” she said. 

“Venue staff are the first line of defence in protecting minors from gambling. We have taken decisive measures where they have failed to take their responsibilities seriously.

“These stronger identity checks not only represent an additional barrier to allowing children to gamble, but will also help to prevent money laundering."

She said the VGCCC would actively monitor these safeguards to reduce harm, and venues should take note and act to uphold their duty to care for the community.

The regulator launched its investigation after receiving a complaint from the public, and urges members of the public to let the VGCCC know if they see anything of concern at a venue on 1300 599 759 or its complaints and tip-offs webpage. 

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