Lessons to be learned from Tabcorp Public Statement

The Gambling Commission has published a public statement (that can be downloaded below) relating to its review of the operating licence of Tabcorp UK Limited (trading as Sunbets) following an investigation by the Commission into the following:

  • weaknesses in its systems relating to self-exclusions resulting in a breach of Social Responsibility Code 3.5.3(1) & (6)
  • in relation to an FA Cup tie between Sutton United v Arsenal on 20 February 2017, (a) offering a novelty market described by the Commission as “dependent on a criminal offence being committed” and (b) offering a novelty market (resulting in the so-called “pie-gate” incident) which carried a risk of inciting an individual to breach a sports governing body’s rules
  • risk management of promotional events (relating to the provision of facilities for gambling otherwise than in accordance with a licence)

Under the penalty package imposed by the Commission, new conditions have been attached to Tabcorp’s operating licence and it has been required to pay £84,000 to socially responsible causes.

That penalty may well have been higher had Tabcorp not, as the Commission acknowledges, acted responsibly in the following respects:

  • timely self-reporting of issues
  • thorough internal investigation which was fully reported upon to the Commission
  • proactive action to address failings and weaknesses
  • proactively refunding £24,000 to affected customers, rather than awaiting regulatory action
  • admissions made.

The Commission makes it clear that there are lessons to be learned by the wider industry, with the Public Statement containing the following “good practice” recommendations:

“To avoid making the same mistakes as Tabcorp UK, operators should consider the following questions:

  • How many details would a self-excluded customer have to change to be prevented from opening a duplicate account? Is your online registration system sufficiently robust?
  • Do you perform holistic reviews of the business and make use of all information available to you, including complaints, to identify potential weaknesses? Do your customer contact arrangements identify potential failings in your systems, so as to enable prompt investigation and remedy?
  • Are you considering the risks when offering a novelty market? Do you have a robust process in place to risk assess and manage novelty betting markets before they are offered? Does this process take into account:
    • whether the market may induce a breach of the rules of a sports governing body
    • whether the market may induce a criminal offence
    • the impact of the market on any individuals who have a pivotal role in facilitating the outcome of that market
    • risks to betting integrity?
  • Would you have complied with requirements to self-report these events to us in time?

Betting operators licensed in June 2016 were all warned about the risks of novelty markets. We will deal more severely with any operator who disregards the guidance outlined in that document and this report.

Operators offering novelty markets must demonstrate a robust management of the associated risks in order to ensure they uphold the licensing objectives. It is not acceptable to offer novelty markets which could induce a criminal offence, a breach of a sports governing body’s rules, or which give rise to unacceptable risks to betting integrity.”

UPDATE: Tabcorp has issued its own statement as follows: “Tabcorp UK has admitted to a number of regulatory breaches as part of a negotiated settlement with the UK Gambling Commission and will pay a penalty package of £84,000, of which £50,000 will be donated to charity. Tabcorp UK takes its regulatory compliance obligations seriously and has taken proactive measures to improve practices and policies in relation to its running of the Sun Bets partnership business. The UKGC notes in its statement on this matter that Tabcorp UK reported these issues to the Commission in a timely fashion, shared the findings of its internal investigations with the Commission and undertook proactive steps to address any weaknesses. The changes implemented are designed to prevent self-excluded customers creating duplicate accounts using different personal details and to ensure more comprehensive risk assessments are conducted when considering posting novelty markets.”