Entain Fined in Australia for Offering QR Bonus Offers to Punters

Entain Group is one of the most successful gambling companies on the planet with a massive reach in the US, Australia, and Europe, where it serves an impressive market of millions of people. The company’s third-quarter results surely attest to that. The group holds tens of international gambling brands such as bwin, partypoker, Ladbrokes, and BetMGM. 

In 2018, Entain also acquired the license for Neds, a popular sports bookmaker in Australia’s Northern Territory (NT). Late last week, the NT Racing Commission, responsible for regulating the sports betting industry in the jurisdiction, determined that Entain had violated its sports bookmaker license. Entain allowed punters to use QR codes to activate a series of bonus cash promotions. The bonuses were given to punters who chose to sign up for a new account using the Neds platform online.

NT Forbids Any Kind of Incentive Given to New Punters 

The Northern Territory forbids sports betting companies from offering any kind of incentive to punters for opening a new account. The NT Code of Practice for Responsible Service of Online Gambling does not allow companies to display and provide any vouchers, credit bonuses, or other kinds of rewards for free, with the intent of alluring people into signing up for an account. 

Entain has allowed punters to scan bonuses on the Neds platform and trigger bonus offerings that went directly into their accounts. The act of handing incentives to punters for opening new betting accounts is considered an “extremely serious breach of the 2019 Code”, according to the Commission. 

Neds Representatives Offered QR Bonus Codes

The official investigation into Entain’s actions was triggered on July 31, when a member of the NT Racing Commission witnessed a talk between a Neds’ representative and a punter at Darwin’s Fannie Bay racecourse. The representative gave the racegoer a business card with a QR code, stating the code would bring him a registration bonus upon opening an account with the Neds website. 

The commission member also obtained one of the business cards, scanned the QR code, and proceeded to open a new account. They were given three bonus cash alternatives between $150 and $250.

Furthermore, more than twelve other punters who registered their new accounts and scanned the QR code during the same day received a bonus, according to a list obtained by the commission member. One of the punters was given a $1,000 bonus after depositing the same amount in their newly created account. Another one was given a $400 bonus.

Neds Reps Deny Involvement in Offering Bonuses 

Entain confirmed the fact that two of its managers responsible for business development were physically present at the racecourse on July 31. However, both representatives denied that the bonuses were given to new punters that had not previously registered with Neds. They claimed they had offered match deposit bonuses to customers who had already opened their accounts there, which is not forbidden.

Despite the pair denying the accusations, the Entain Group informed the commission that it had terminated the representatives’ services on the grounds of going against the registration incentives training they had been given.

The commission was of the view that Entain was at fault for giving the businesses cards to the Neds representatives in order to encourage new customers to sign up for a new account while being promised bonus cash offers. In 2019, Entain had another brand, Ladbrokes, fined because it had offered 400 “cash in cards,” each worth $20 to draw in newcomers.

However, the existence of a previous breach of license did not determine the Commission to cancel or temporarily suspend the group’s license. Instead, Entain has been given a maximum fine of $26,690 ($19,071) and issued a warning that more serious disciplinary measures would be taken against it in case of future breaches.