Tabcorp has taken rival Entain Australia to court, due to a deal the latter signed last month with the Australian Hotels Association New South Wales (AHA NSW).
The case was initiated yesterday in the New South Wales (NSW) Supreme Court as a civil dispute, and is being presided over by Justice M Ball.
According to Australian media reports, Entain and the AHA NSW failed to disclose ‘sufficient’ information about their partnership to Tabcorp, specifically relating to advertising.
This was of significance to Tabcorp due to the company having an established monopoly via state licence to exclusively operate its PubTAB betting kiosks in NSW hotels and pubs until 2033.
The agreement between Entain’s Australian subsidiary and the AHA NSW does not allow the UK-founded international gambling group to operate its own kiosks, which would violate Tabcorp’s exclusive licence.
However, it does allow pubs and hotels to advertise Entain’s products, potentially encouraging some customers to betvia the company’s Ladbrokes or Neds sportsbook apps as opposed to Tabcorp’s terminals.
Commenting at the time the deal was signed, AHA NSW CEO John Whelan stated that the partnership would ‘finally give NSW hotels competition and choice’, observing that many venues had been operating PubTABs at a loss.
Initiating preliminary proceedings on Monday afternoon, Tabcorp called for greater clarity on advertising and shared concerns that the deal could “raise a risk of contravening the Unlawful Gambling Act of 1998”, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
The Herald also outlined, however, that some betting and racing stakeholders do not appear to be rooting heavily for Tabcorp, with the paper citing a source from Racing NSW last month.
The Herald’s source described Tabcorp as ‘monopolistic’ due to its hold over horse racing media rights via its Sky Racing channel, and the individual went on to say that the ENtain-ASA NSW deal was a case of Tabcorp ‘getting what they deserved’.
In the ASA NSW’s official announcement, Whelan also showed some scepticism of the benefits of Tabcorp’s exclusive state licence to local pubs and hotels.
“For decades now, many NSW hotels have operated PubTABs for Tabcorp at a significant loss – primarily due to high Sky Channel and EBT (betting terminal) fees,” he said.
“In country NSW it’s even worse, with the majority of country pubs currently running their PubTAB at a loss.”
Should Tabcorp move ahead from preliminary to substantive proceedings, it will either make a case for an injunction against both parties or claim for damages, according to the Herald.