CrownBet’s incursion onto Tabcorp’s turf in New South Wales has set sparks flying. Earlier this week, the digital division of James Packers’ Crown Resorts announced it had signed a ten-year deal with ClubNSW to provide online betting services across the organisation’s 1,200 venues via a designated app.

Tabcorp goes to war over CrownBet / ClubsNSW deal

Tabcorp Chief Executive David Attenborough wrote a stern letter to New South Wales pubs and clubs to inform them that, by accepting the proposed CrownBet ATMs, they could be breaking the law. (Image: Australian Financial Review)

Punters will be incentivized to use the CrownBet app over Tabcorp’s TAB betting machines, which are installed in hundreds of clubs and pubs in the state, by the ability to earn club loyalty points which can be redeemed for food and drink purchases at each venue.

Cashing Out

It’s very cunning, and Tabcorp, which paid $75 million to the NSW government for a 20-year exclusivity deal for in-venue retail betting back in 2013, is hopping mad.

But Tabcorp is even more infuriated by the fact that CrownBet also has the option to install ATM-style cash-out machines, which will let punters bet online and immediately withdraw winnings from their online betting account to spend in the venue.

What’s more, Tabcorp thinks this may be illegal, and it wrote to hundreds of pubs and clubs across the state this week to tell them so. It warned proprietors that they could face prosecution if they agree to install the machines.

Threatening Letter

The letter, written by Tabcorp Chief Executive David Attenborough, and seen by the Daily Telegraph, asserted that Tabcorp was the “sole wagering provider that is entitled to provide gambling services (including digital wagering) off-course in New South Wales, by virtue of its wagering licence and New South Wales wagering legislation.

“We note that s31 of that Act prohibits an owner or occupier of a premises from knowingly allowing the premises to be used for, or in connection with, bookmaking carried on by or on behalf of a person who is not a licensed bookmaker,” wrote Attenborough.

“Tabcorp’s strong understanding is that CrownBet is not a licensed bookmaker for the purposes of the Unlawful Gambling Act. We encourage you to evaluate the CrownBet proposal in light of the legal risks as well as Tabcorp’s commercial offering.”

Attenborough added that Tabcorp was in the process of reviewing the proposed CrownBet service and considering its options, including whether it contravenes the Unlawful Gambling Act.

Earlier in the week, ClubsNSW chief executive Anthony Ball said the CrownBet deal would help ensure the clubs industry’s long term viability. More than 90 percent of venues had been “losing money” on their TAB facilities and the new venture help them get their fair share, he added.

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