Tabcorp Secures Discovery In Court Clash With Entain

March 16, 2023
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Australian wagering giant Tabcorp Holdings has prevailed in court action to secure documents from bookmaker Entain to establish if the latter's deal with a pubs and hotels lobby group infringes Tabcorp’s retail monopoly.

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Australian wagering giant Tabcorp Holdings has prevailed in court action to secure documents from bookmaker Entain to establish if the latter's deal with a pubs and hotels lobby group infringes Tabcorp’s retail monopoly.

The New South Wales (NSW) Supreme Court on Wednesday (March 15) ordered Entain Group and the Australian Hotels Association NSW (AHA) to release three categories of documents to Tabcorp to see if the deal amounts to “more than mere advertising” and might “operate in a manner that breaches what it sees as being its valuable retail exclusivity”, the judgment said.

The “long-term” Entain-AHA deal announced in October promotes Entain’s Ladbrokes and Neds wagering brands in some 1,800 pubs and clubs across NSW “through a new advertising and sponsorship agreement”, it said, citing an Entain-AHA press release.

Justice James Stevenson ordered Entain and the AHA to provide Tabcorp with all legal advice regarding their partnership and arrangements with pubs and hotels; all documents involving the physical layouts, incentives or benefits offered to venues and customers and involving promotional spaces with names such as “Ladbrokes Lounges”, “Mates Zones” and “Neds Club Lounges”; and documents supporting Entain Australia CEO Dean Shannon’s claim that Tabcorp’s monopoly entitlements will not be breached.

“I am persuaded that Tabcorp has established that it reasonably requires access to such documents in order to decide whether to commence proceedings” against the defendants, Stevenson wrote.

Stevenson declined Tabcorp’s request for five other categories of documents, arguing that available information and that obtained from the above categories would be sufficient.

He noted that the Entain-AHA deal is restricted to promoting digital wagering, rather than directly challenging the cash retail exclusivity enjoyed by Tabcorp on the floors of pubs and hotels.

Nonetheless, Stevenson found that Tabcorp might have reason to sue Entain and the AHA over misleading or deceptive conduct in their representations to pubs and hotels on the legality of the arrangement, and for conspiring to “injure by unlawful means” under the terms of the Unlawful Gambling Act 1998.

From Tabcorp’s point of view, Entain, the AHA and participating outlets could be preparing to create “gambling premises” in the state, in contravention of the act.

Tabcorp welcomed the order in a statement, adding it will “review the documents disclosed in order to assess whether or not to commence legal proceedings against Entain or AHA NSW, or both, in the Supreme Court”.

The Tabcorp litigation is the latest of several obstacles for Entain in Australian wagering markets, following the failure of its bid to run a privatising TAB racing network in Western Australian state and the launch of an enforcement investigation into Entain by AUSTRAC, the national financial transactions regulator.

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