Victoria regulator issues warning on sports sponsorship inducements

The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission has issued a warning to sports clubs and online wagering providers regarding community expectations surrounding partnerships between the two.

The regulator, which has been busy as of late, has reminded sports outfits within the state that they must be mindful of community expectations around encouraging members to sign up to gambling products.

“The VGCCC is aware that some online wagering providers are entering into sponsorship agreements with sporting clubs to induce their members to create accounts with the provider by linking financial incentives to each member of the club that signs up,” a media statement noted. 

“Clubs are sometimes given additional incentives based on the spend by their members.”

In addition, the regulator has also demanded that wagering service providers stop promoting their products in this manner immediately as they may be in breach of legislation, in addition to being inconsistent with their social licence to minimise harm. 

The VGCC also cited section 4.7.10 of the Gambling Regulation Act 2003, which notes that providers are prohibited from offering any credit, voucher, reward, or other benefit as an incentive to open an account or refer another person to open an account.

“The VGCCC doesn’t just hold gambling providers to the minimum letter of the law – but their social licence as well,” it was added.

“Sporting clubs need to be mindful of community expectations around incentivising members, and potentially junior members, to gamble. 

“We encourage sporting clubs to refrain from entering into such sponsorship deals which may harm members and may constitute illegal behaviour by the wagering provider.”

Last week, the VGCCC fined the Australian Leisure and Hospitality Group A$550,000 for operating 220 gaming machines without the installation of mandatory YourPlay pre-commitment technology.

The breaches by the country’s largest operator of electronic gaming machines, which runs over 350 pubs across Australia, were described by magistrate’s as serious and wilful.

It was also noted that an early guilty plea and cooperation with the state regulator were key mitigating factors in reducing the fine from the maximum of A$1.35m, however, the group must also pay legal costs of A$50,000.