TABCORP has pleaded guilty after its online betting branch was accused of breaching gambling advertising regulations.
In a bid to sweeten their marketing tactics, the online betting site TAB handed out branded packets of jelly beans and mints on March 30.
But the marketing ploy has been labelled more sickly than sweet and has cost Tabcorp substantial fines and legal costs.
The packets, featuring the slogan “Nothing’s as sweet as a win”, were handed out to people at Martin Place and Town Hall stations in Sydney.
The promotion took place to take advantage of Racing NSW’s top racing event, The Championships, which takes place on the first two Saturdays in April.
But the lack of “gamble responsibly” phrase caught the eye of Greens MP Justin Field, who happened to receive one of the packets.
Field is the party’s spokesman for gaming and promptly wrote to the Minister for Racing, Paul Toole, notifying him of the inappropriate gambling advertising by the TAB.
He argued it breaches betting regulations as it promotes gambling to children. He also added the lack of gambling warnings on the packets could breach advertising laws.
“Most people were getting handed a packet of jellybeans,” Field told Triple J’s Hack program.
“We know they’re going to go in people’s bags and be thrown on the table at the end of the day and end up in the hands of kids.
“This is a new low. Tabcorp has a moral responsibility.
“I don’t think they should need Liquor and Gaming to tell them this isn’t an appropriate form of advertising.”
Liquor and Gaming NSW swiftly launched an investigation into the possible violations and whether it was a PR stunt or counted as advertising.
The regulator found it was the latter and TAB pleaded guilty to two counts of breaching the Betting and Racing Regulation.
The first plea is based on the online bookmaker’s failure to add the suffice terminology to warn vulnerable people, while the other plea is based on handing the jelly beans out at the two Sydney CBD locations.
Tabcorp will now have to pay $10,000 in legal costs and will face a fine up to $5500 for each location the jelly beans and mints were handed out. The courts are yet to determine the exact amount to be imposed.
But Field still is not happy.
“The penalty of a $5000 fine is a slap on the wrist for a big gambling organisation like the TAB who make huge profits from our community,” Field said.
“It’s not on to market gambling as harmless fun, when it’s designed to addict people and take hard-earned money out of their pockets and communities.”
During the investigation, Tabcorp’s CEO, David Attenborough, vowed any future TAB-branded merchandise will display the appropriate warnings.
He also told Liquor and Gaming any merchandise will not be handed out to those under the age of 18. How this would be controlled, was not stated.
A spokesman for Toole responded to questioning stating “it is not appropriate for the minister to comment when inquiries are ongoing, or when a matter is before the courts.”
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