Tabcorp and Victorian pubs accused in underage-gambling probe

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Wagering giant Tabcorp and multiple pubs owned by ASX-listed Endeavour Group are facing a fresh bout of charges in Victoria after allegedly allowing a 16-year-old to gamble at their venues almost 30 times last year.

The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission confirmed on Monday that Tabcorp had been charged with 57 offences, including 27 counts of allowing a minor to gamble and failing to reasonably supervise its electronic betting terminals between May and September 2022.

Tabcorp chief executive Adam Rytenskild.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

The other venues – which include the Olympic Hotel, the Brunswick Club, the Edwards Lake Hotel and the Albion Charles Hotel – face a maximum collective fine of $1 million and were charged with allowing a minor within a gaming machine area and failing to ensure gambling vending machines were reasonably supervised at all times.

Tabcorp faces a prospective penalty of up to $698,998 as the holder of the Victorian wagering and betting licence.

The Victorian regulator’s chief, Annette Kimmitt, said allowing minors to gamble was one of the industry’s most serious harms.

“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,” Kimmitt said.

Other venues charged were the Doncaster Hotel, the Rose Shamrock and Thistle Hotel and Preston Hotel.

A Tabcorp spokesperson said the group took the matter seriously and encouraged the work of the regulator.

“We’re very focused on managing the unique challenges of cash betting and continue to invest in this area to protect minors by stopping our equipment from being used in this way.

“The board was made aware of the investigation by management and has been regularly updated on the investigation and processes.”

The Victorian regulator began its investigation after a complaint from a member of the public in May.

It said at the time Preston Hotel faced 15 charges, with six counts each of allowing a minor to gamble and failing to reasonably supervise electronic betting terminals, as well as three charges of allowing a minor to enter a gaming machine area.

The regulator ruled out commenting further while the matter was before the courts.

Tabcorp in 2022 received the largest penalty ever issued by the regulator – $1 million– after it failed to comply with multiple directions after a system outage that affected the 2020 Spring Racing Carnival.

In 2017, Tabcorp paid $45 million to the financial watchdog, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, after extensive anti-money laundering failings. This was one of the biggest penalties in corporate history.

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