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Tabcorp has been ordered to make most of its Electronic Betting Terminals (EBTs) cashless, following multiple incidents of a minor using them to gamble.

The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) has issued a statewide direction that Tabcorp’s betting terminals cannot accept cash bets unless they are within five metres, and in the line of sight of the counter.

This will mean, from late-January 2024, around 70 percent of Tabcorp’s 1800 Electronic Betting Terminals across Victoria will change to only accept vouchers.

To use these terminals, patrons must go to the counter to obtain a voucher, ensuring ID checking occurs where the person appears to be under 25.

Tabcorp has also been directed to rollout an independent “mystery shopper” programme to ensure venues are appropriately checking ID. Failure to comply with the new requirements will result in an escalating series of penalties for those venues, including having all EBTs in the venue switched to voucher mode for six months and Tabcorp terminating agreements with the venues.

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Over the past eight months, the VGCCC has charged Tabcorp, along with nine venues, for offences related to allowing a minor within a gaming machine area, allowing a minor to gamble, and failing to reasonably supervise Electronic Betting Terminals. The first case was heard in court last month, with the Magistrate fining the Preston Hotel $25,300 for allowing the then 16-year-old to gamble using betting terminals in 2022.

VGCCC CEO Annette Kimmitt AM said the strengthened requirements were a response to continued breaches, despite warnings to the industry. “It is inexcusable to accept a bet from a minor and tougher actions are required to protect the community, especially children, from gambling harm,” she said.

“Venue staff are the first line of defence in protecting minors from gambling. We have taken decisive measures where they have failed to take their responsibilities seriously.”

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“These stronger identity checks not only represent an additional barrier to allowing children to gamble, but will also help to prevent money laundering,” she said.

“The VGCCC will actively monitor these safeguards to reduce harm, and venues should take note and act to uphold their duty to care for the community.”

The charges against Tabcorp and the remaining eight venues relate to allegedly allowing a minor to gamble in breach of the Gambling Regulation Act 2003, between 8 September 2022 and 20 October 2023.

Tabcorp faces a total of 72 charges of allowing a minor to gamble and failing to reasonably supervise its Electronic Betting Terminals.

If found guilty, the operators face a maximum collective fine of more than one million dollars, while Tabcorp could face a maximum fine of $969,236.40.

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