Regulator Hits Entain Group With $26,690 Fine

The Northern Territory Racing Commission hit Entain Group with a $26,690 fine for breaching its sportsbook license. The charge relates to Neds, which Entain Group acquired in 2018, and some recent incidents at Darwin’s Fannie Bay racecourse.

An investigation found Entain Group allowed punters to use QR codes to activate a series of bonuses. The company gave customers bonuses for signing up for a new Neds betting account. The Northern Territory forbids sports betting companies from offering any incentive to customers for opening a new account.

A race meeting at the Fannie Bay Racecourse in Darwin on July 31 is where the complaint stems from. A Neds Business Development Manager, ultimately employed by Entain Group, was heard in a conversation with a racegoer. The conversation ended with the Neds manager stating anyone signing up for a new account via the QR code on his business card were eligible for bonuses. Furthermore, the manager encouraged the racegoer to promote the offer to his friends.

The Northern Territory Racing Commission obtained one such business card, and opened an account with the QR code. A window opened offering a choice of three bonus cash offers worth up to $250.

Entain Group Responds to the Commission

Entain Group quickly responded to a request from the Northern Territory Racing Commission to provide a list of accounts opened on July 31 using the QR code. Fourteen new accounts are attributed to the QR code on that exact date. However, two never made a first deposit at the time Entain Group created the report.

A screenshot of the accounts clearly show 12 new accounts receiving bonuses. One, in particular, stands out from the crowd because it was a $1,000 bonus.

The Neds business managers operated under an affiliate agreement. They denied offering bonus bets to new customers because they are “fully aware of the training and direction that has been provided by Neds regarding sign up inducements and know that they cannot be offered.”

However, the Entain Group employees claimed they offered bonuses to existing customers. They claim to have done this only after confirming with Neds customer support.

Entain Group accepted the charges put forward, and terminated the Neds managers. In addition, the company provided extra training to its current staff. It argued having a QR code offering bonuses was not an offence on it own. However, it did not deny the alleged conversation took place.

Second Bonus Related Fine For Neds

This is not the first time Neds fell foul of bonus money rules. The Liquor & Gaming NSW fined Ladbrokes and Neds $207,500 in February 2020, a record fine. That fine came after Two Neds adverts and four Ladbrokes ran on Channel 7 and on both Facebook and Instagram.

One advert offered $250 worth of bonus bets for a $50 wager. The New South Wales regulator deemed Neds and Ladbrokes broke the terms of their licences. Neither company appealed the decision, leaving Entain Group, then GVC Holdings, on the hook for $207,500.

Fines Will Not Stop Business Acquisitions

$26,690 is a lot of money to most people but it is a drop in the ocean for Entain Group. The London Stock Exchange-listed company last week offered US$1 billion for Olympic Entertainment Group, one of the Baltic region’s biggest betting companies.

Olympic is one of the last remaining assets from Novalpina Capital, which owns NSO Group. The latter is the developer of the controversial Pegasus spyware tool autocratic governments used to spy on journalists.

Novalpina bought Olympic for US$325 million in 2018. Acquisitions resulted in the company expanding into Romania and Croatia. It owns gambling brands OlyBet and MaxBet, plus more than 100 online casinos. Furthermore, Olympic is the official betting partner of the NBA in several markets.