Tabcorp Fined for Third Time for Violating Gambling Ad Laws
Australia has strict laws regarding online gambling advertisements. Companies that violate these laws are subject to penalties. Tabcorp is one such company that has paid penalties in the past for violating these laws. Unfortunately, Tabcorp has once again violated advertising laws.
According to various reports, Tabcorp will pay a fine of AU $30,000 for violating advertising laws. The company had sent illegal ads to current and former players on Instagram back in 2019.
Tabcorp Instagram Campaign Targets Players
On November 25th, the Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney heard a case against Tabcorp for violating the NSW Betting and Racing Act. Under the law, it is illegal for gambling companies to run ads that try to induce players to participate in gambling or to open a gambling account.
Tabcorp to pay $30,000 NSW advertising fine https://t.co/3xaF5rZxXW
— Associate Professor Sally Gainsbury (@DrSalGainsbury) November 30, 2020
Back in December 2019, Tabcorp ran an ad campaign on Instagram through the Instagram Stories feature. The ads were to target Tabcorp account holders. However, data for 900 NSW residents who are no longer playing at Tabcorp was sent to Facebook. The result was those players also receiving ads on Instagram stories.
According to reports, one such former player received an ad on December 14, 2019. He was offered bonus bets from Tabcorp. Also, the same was sent to other players, but exact details were part of the report. Tabcorp claims that the release of data for the 900 former players was human error.
Magistrate Not Pleased Over Tabcorp’s Repeated Violation
Magistrate Erin Kennedy heard the case and came down sternly against Tabcorp. She said that it was likely that some of the 900 players who closed their accounts did so because they were problem gamblers. Furthermore, this means that these former players were exposed to gambling by Tabcorp. Such exposure can potentially harm someone that is a recovering problem gambler.
Magistrate Kennedy also said that the company’s compliance history did not help it in this case. This is yet another example of the company skirting NSW laws. Back in 2017, the company paid a combined AU $116,500 over three cases involving punter inducement. In July 2019, the company again violated NSW advertising rules, paying out AU $14,000 in fines.
lmao a $30,000 fine. I sure Tabcorp (which reported north of $5 bil in revenue last year) is shook https://t.co/BijXda3p1E
— CAMERONWILSON (@cameronwilson) December 3, 2020
As such, Kennedy again found Tabcorp guilty and ordered the company to pay AU $30,276. This consists of an $18,000 fine and $12,276 in legal fees.
Honestly, this is a slap on the wrist for what Kennedy could have charged the company. According to NSW law, penalties are up to AU $55,000 per violation. However, the company could have been forced to pay over AU $49.5 million if Kennedy issued a maximum penalty.
Are Advertising Fines Avoidable?
Looking at the history of Tabcorp, one would think that such fines would be an eventual cost of doing business. With the nature of the internet, it is likely that at some point that companies will mess up. While one could argue this, companies have the technology and the expertise to avoid these problems.
For starters, there is no reason for Tabcorp or any Australian online casinos to retain data for former players. When a player decides to close their account, data should be completely removed from any and all forms of marketing. While some companies sell data to marketing companies, the reasons why a player opts to close an account is generally unknown. According to Magistrate Kennedy, there are some that close their accounts due to problem gambling. That alone should force companies to purge their databases.
In the end, it is almost inexcusable for Tabcorp or any company to make this form of human error. Perhaps a heftier fine in the future will force companies to take the necessary steps to eliminate “human error” from the equation.
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