Gambling giant Tabcorp has copped a regulatory roasting after it paid out illegal in-play bets on a US college basketball match.
The communications regulator said Tabcorp accepted 37 online in-play bets during a match back in January, even though it is against the law in Australia to gamble online on sporting events that are already under way.
It’s the latest local gambling company to fall foul of authorities this year, with Sportsbet and Crown Casino also attracting headlines for the wrong reasons.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority on Thursday said Tabcorp responded to the charge by saying it had been given “incorrect match information” from a third-party provider and hence did not close its betting market in time.
Tabcorp also said the mistake was further compounded by a technical error.
However, upon realising the mistake, Tabcorp paid out the winning bets instead of voiding them.
ACMA said all illegal bets should have been voided so no one benefited from prohibited activity.
“We know that in-play betting, such as bets on the next point in a tennis match or the next ball in cricket, can pose a very high risk to problem gamblers,” ACMA authority member Fiona Cameron said.
“These rules have been in place for many years and Tabcorp has had more than enough time to put systems in place to ensure that in-play betting is not offered on local or international sports.”
That said, the regulator decided not to fine Tabcorp for the breach, instead slapping the $11bn company with an official warning.
It is still the first time ACMA has taken action against an operator for a breach of online in-play betting rules.
“The industry is now on notice that it must have robust systems in place to prevent in-play bets and that the ACMA will investigate evidence of noncompliance with these important consumer safeguards.”
Online betting company Sportsbet was this month fined $135,000 for alleged gambling advertising breaches.
Liquor and Gaming NSW alleged Sportsbet had sent gambling advertisements to customers via email despite them opting out of direct marketing. Sportsbet was also alleged to have used illegal memes to induce Facebook and Instagram users to take part in a “Treasure Punt” promotion.
Sportsbet was also fined $22,000 in March for wagering advertising breaches.
ASX-listed Crown Casino has faced three separate investigations over the past year amid allegations of money laundering and links to organised crime, while the Star entertainment group is also being investigated for alleged money laundering offences.
Meanwhile, ACMA has requested Australian internet service providers block illegal offshore lottery websites We Love Lotto and Red Fox Lotto, while in September and October it requested a block on illegal offshore gambling websites including Grand Rush, Jackpot Jill, Koala Royal, National Casino, Spin Bit, Fight Club, Kim Vegas, Queenspins, Yoju Casino and Juicy Stakes.
Anyone in need of free and confidential gambling harm support can contact GambleAware on 1800 858 858 or visit gambleaware.nsw.gov.au
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