The Victoria Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) has ordered Tabcorp to make most of its electronic betting terminals (EBTs) in the Australian state cashless following multiple incidents of underage gambling.
From late January, approximately 70% of 1,800 Tabcorp EBTs in Victoria will change to only accept vouchers. The ruling applies to all EBTs, except those within five metres, and in the line of sight, of the counter.
To access the cashless machines, players must purchase a voucher at the counter. Here, they will be subject to ID checks to ensure they are of legal age to gamble on EBTs.
The ruling also orders Tabcorp to roll out an independent “mystery shopper” programme to ensure venues are appropriately checking ID.
Should Tabcorp fail to comply with these requirements, it could face an escalating series of penalties. These could include having all EBTs in offending venues switched to vouchers for six months and terminating agreements with venues.
VGCCC blasts “inexcusable” breaches
“It is inexcusable to accept a bet from a minor and tougher actions are required to protect the community, especially children, from gambling harm,” says VGCCC CEO Annette Kimmitt.
“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. The VGCCC will actively monitor these safeguards to reduce harm and venues should take note and act to uphold their duty of care for the community.”
Tabcorp facing 72 charges of underage gambling
The order comes after the VGCCC charged Tabcorp, along with nine venues, over underage gambling over the past eight months. These related to allowing a minor within a gaming machine area and gambling, as well as failing to reasonably supervise EBTs.
The first case was heard in court during December. A magistrate fined the Preston Hotel AU$25,300 (£13,240/€15,398/US$16,873) for allowing a then-16-year-old to gamble using EBTs in 2022.
Charges facing Tabcorp and the other eight venues relate to allegedly allowing a minor to gamble. The alleged breaches of the Gambling Regulation Act 2003 took place between September 2022 and October 2023.
The remaining eight venues named in the case include the Olympic Hotel, Brunswick Club, Edwardes Lake Hotel, Parkview Hotel, Albion Charles Hotel, Doncaster Hotel, Rose Shamrock & Thistle Hotel and Northcote TAB Agency.
Tabcorp faces a total of 72 charges. If found guilty, the operators face a maximum collective fine of more than $1.0m, Tabcorp’s fine could amount to $969,236.
The next matter will appear before the Melbourne magistrates court on 24 January.
Victoria clamping down on rule-breakers
The cashless EBT order is the latest step taken by the VGCCC to address rule breaches in the state.
Among others facing charges is Rumotel, operator of the Tower Hotel in Victoria. Rumotel could face an additional fine of up to AU$1.4m for allegedly breaching responsible gambling rules.
The VGCCC says Rumotel failed to ensure a responsible gambling officer was available at all times on the gaming floor. It is also alleged Rumotel did not properly maintain a responsible gambling register.
This resulted in the VGCCC issuing an additional three charges against the Tower Hotel operator. These followed 35 charges filed against the operator September for allegedly breaching gambling control rules.