Shortly after securing ministerial approval in New Zealand, Entain, in partnership with TAB New Zealand, has violated the New Zealand Gambling Act by unlawfully promoting its products.
Following the approval from Racing Minister Kieran McAnulty, Entain assumed control of TAB NZ, securing a 25-year operating license and pledging a substantial $900 million investment in the local racing industry over the next five years. This move was expected to inject new vitality into the gaming sector in New Zealand.
However, the initial phase has encountered setbacks as the government discovered that Entain had dispatched sports betting advertisements to customers after receiving ministerial approval but before finalizing the TAB NZ deal. While New Zealand’s gambling regulations may not be the most stringent, they prohibit promotions by offshore operators.
Reports indicate that Entain sent out emails enticing players to participate in a “fantastic sports betting offer.””
The laws in New Zealand are considered outdated and in need of modernization
The current state of New Zealand’s Gambling Act 2003 is widely considered outdated. While offshore gaming is not explicitly prohibited by legislation, advertising foreign gambling sites to the local audience is clearly banned.
Entain has acknowledged the issue and expressed its support for immediate regulation in the country. However, a spokesperson emphasized that the existing regulations do not prohibit sites from engaging in transactions with customers in New Zealand.
Assuring compliance, the Entain representative stated that the company has been diligently working to shut down its unlicensed brands, such as Party Casino and Bwin, in New Zealand following the ministerial approval of its partnership with TAB NZ. The process of closure is already in progress, according to the spokesperson.
Despite the breach, Racing Minister Kieran McAnulty remains hopeful that Entain will make every effort to adhere to the regulations while prioritizing the minimization of gambling harm, as mandated by the Act. He expressed optimism that the scale and expertise of Entain will enable TAB NZ to implement better harm minimization measures than what is currently available in New Zealand.
Although only TAB and Lotto are permitted to offer legal online gambling in New Zealand, the region continues to be targeted by foreign companies. The lack of stringent legislation makes New Zealand an attractive target for companies seeking more relaxed regulations.
However, discussions surrounding the regulation of online gambling are ongoing, indicating that legislative changes may be introduced in the near future.
Not the only issue for Entain
Entain has encountered additional issues beyond its New Zealand-related issues. In the past year, the company faced a substantial multi-million fine in the United Kingdom due to multiple breaches of anti-money laundering (AML) regulations. More recently, it was exposed for covertly lobbying against the UK’s white paper.
In April, Entain also received a fine in Australia for offering illegal gambling products. Concurrently, the company remains under investigation by the HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs).