Australian regulator hits Entain with AUS$26,690 fine over business card bonus

Australia’s Northern Territory Racing Commission has issued Entain with a AUS$26,690 fine over a bonus that was offered through a business card.

The fine comes after the regulatory body conducted an investigation into a bonus being offered by Entain’s Australian-facing subsidiary Neds.

Why was Entain fined?

Entain was fined following an investigation into a business card bonus offered at Neds.

An investigation took place after a member of the commission overheard a conversation between a racegoer and a business development manager at Neds at Fannie Bay Racecourse on 31 July.

During the conversation, the manager said that certain bonuses were available to the racegoer, or any person who opened a Neds account, using a QR code on their business card.

The manager gave the card to the racegoer and suggested that they share the QR code with their friends.

After this, the commission member obtained the card from the racegoer and opened an account with Neds using the QR code.

The commission member was presented with three “bonus cash” offers after using this method to set up an account.

Following this, a betting inspector was appointed by the commission to investigate the issue and wrote to Entain about the allegations on 7 September 2021.

Entain’s response

In response to the issue, Entain provided the regulator with a list of new account holders that signed up to Neds using the QR code method on 31 July. This included the first cash bonus they received.

The operator also acknowledged that two contracted business development managers for Neds were on the premises at the Fannie Bay Racecourse on 31 July and confirmed they gave out business cards with QR codes that linked to Neds’ sign-up page.

Entain also accepted that the language used by the business development manager could be considered an inducement to gamble, however, the operator said this was the employees acting outside of the firm’s authority.

Entain did also argue that the offering of a bonus via a QR code was compliant with the country’s regulations. The operator argued that since the bonus could only be obtained after signing up for an account, it said, this could not be considered an inducement to gamble.

The ruling

Despite Entain’s argument, the Northern Territory Racing Commission ruled that Entain violated clause 5.5(a) of the NT Code of Practice for Responsible Service of Online Gambling 2019. 

Under this clause of the Code, an online gambling operator “must not offer any credit, voucher or reward to a person to open a betting account.”

By offering a sign-up bonus, available through a QR code on an employee’s business card, the Commission ruled Entain had breached the ban on inducements to gamble.

The Commission rejected Entain’s argument that bonsu offer was compliant with the code and ultimately ruled that the QR code amounted to an inducement to gamble, as it encouraged players to sign up for a Neds account.

The regulator also rejected claims that the business development managers were acting of their own volition as the offer was available through company-issued business cards.

Entain was issued the maximum fine of $26,690, or 170 penalty units. The regulator could have also decided to cancel or suspend Entain’s licence.