The Northern Territory Racing Commission has penalised Entain with an AUS $26,690 fine after its Australia-facing Neds subsidiary was judged to have violated state licencing requirements.
An investigation into Neds’ compliance with the law began after a Commission member saw a Business Development Manager form the company inform a rage goer that bonus offers could be accessed by scanning a QR code on his business card.
After acquiring a business card, the Commission member scanned the QR code and was presented with a window offering ‘bonus cash’ offers.
Under the terms of the Northern Territory’s Code of Practice for Responsible Service of Online Gambling 2019, operators “must not offer any credit, voucher or reward to a person to open a betting account”.
In response to the accusation, Entain stated: “If a person simply received a Neds business card and scanned the QR code, they would be taken to the screens which do not contain any details or offer of a credit, voucher or reward for opening a betting account. It is only after that point, i.e once the account has been opened and the customer is logged into their account, that any offers or bonuses would be presented.”
However, the FTSE100 gambling group – which is also active in Australia via its Ladbrokes, Bookmaker and Betstar brands, and has looked at further strengthening its position via a possible takeover of Tabcorp’s TAB betting division – did acknowledge that the language used by the Manager in question did constitute a violation of Northern Territory gambling practice.
Although recognising Entain’s response, the Commission maintained that due to the number of new customers who scanned the QR code and were subsequently offered sign up bonuses due to the Manager’s actions, the action represented a ‘serious’ breach of the state code.
Authorities also rejected Entain’s defence that the violation was the fault of the manager alone, stating that it was ultimately the operator’s responsibility for providing the business card’s featuring the QR code.
“The Commission considers the offering of incentives to non-existing customers to open a betting account is an extremely serious breach of the 2019 Code,” the Commission asserted, in a statement signed by Chairperson, Alastair Shields.
The authority further noted: “Notwithstanding the previous breach and the very serious nature of this matter, the Commission has determined not to suspend or cancel Entain’s licence at this time but to impose once again the maximum fine of 170 penalty units which equates to $26,690.
“Should Entain, or any of its related businesses, breach clause 5(a) of the 2019 Code again in the future, the Commission will consider carefully whether other disciplinary options under section 80(1)(d) of the Act should be imposed.”