The Northern Territory Racing Commission (NTRC) has issued a second maximum fine to sports betting giant Entain Group for offering bonuses to potential customers, warning of licence cancellation in the event of a third “extremely serious” breach.
The commission on Thursday ruled that multiple business development managers (BDMs) with Entain subsidiary Neds offered bonuses to non-customers on July 31 at Darwin’s Fannie Bay Racecourse, including one BDM who made an offer that was witnessed by a commission member.
The commission fined Entain the maximum penalty of almost A$27,000 ($19,200), replicating a fine the company received two years ago for a similar breach.
In its presentation to the commission, Entain admitted only to the single breach witnessed by the NTRC, in which a prospective customer was handed a business card with a QR code linking to an account registration page and subsequent “bonus cash” offers.
However, the NTRC ruled that several BDMs on that day made similar offers to potential customers at the racecourse, violating clause 5(a) of the Northern Territory’s 2019 code of practice for responsible online gaming that bans “any credit, voucher or reward” for opening an account or referring others to open an account.
The commission also dismissed Entain’s claim that the BDMs acted outside their authority and was not swayed by Entain’s sacking of the Neds BDMs present at the racecourse that day.
“Entain cannot purport to disown the actions of the Neds BDMs when the business cards being used by the Neds BDMs and which facilitates [sic] the very practice which is unlawful under the 2019 Code are in fact supplied by Entain itself,” it said.
The ruling said Neds BDMs likely made bonus offers to non-customers using the business card QR code on other days but said disciplinary proceedings were limited to the events of July 31.
“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,” it said.
The NTRC imposed the maximum fine of A$26,690 on Entain, noting that the company under its previous name GVC Australia, trading as Ladbrokes, received the same maximum fine in 2019 over a “cash in card” promotion that targeted new customers.
“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 … should be imposed”, including licence suspension or cancellation, it said.
The ruling concluded by noting the decision would be published on the NTRC website to “place all Northern Territory bookmakers on notice that the commission will not tolerate such activities which are in clear breach of the code”.