Tabcorp has found a new way to advertise its Australia gambling products, and it’s raising eyebrows all across NSW. Giving away bags of jellybeans may seem like an innocent gesture, but it could also be construed as promoting gambling to minors.
Tabcorp Jellybean Giveaway – photo abc.net.au
On Thursday morning, as rush hour commuters poured through central Sydney’s Martin Place, three gentleman donning Tabcorp t-shirts greeted the general public by handing out free bags of jellybeans.
There’s nothing wrong with a distinguished company handing out free treats, but the tagline “Nothing’s sweeter than a win”, followed by the TAB.com.au web URL printed on the bag, is stirring up controversy.
Only adults who were obviously old enough to gamble received the sweet treats, but that’s inconsequential at this point. The most likely scenario to occur here, according to some critics, is that adults will end up giving the candy bags to their children to enjoy.
In this manner, whether intentional or not, many are arguing that the Australia gambling giant is promoting its wagering products to children.
Are Free Jellybeans Considered Advertisements?
According to analysts, the biggest question is whether the Advertising Standards Board (ASB) or regulators with NSW Liquor and Gaming will consider a free bag of jellybeans to fall under the guidelines of an “advertisement”.
With or without the promotional material printed on the bag, advertising experts have said it probably won’t, and that Tabcorp is likely within its rights to hand them out to adults.
Barely A Slap On The Wrist if Guilty
Even if the ASB finds the material to be in breach of Australia gambling ad laws, the organization has no power to enforce a penalty against Tabcorp. The most it could do is require the company to pull the ad (i.e. stop giving them away).
Liquor & Gaming NSW, on the other hand, could impose a fine against Tabcorp, if it finds the wagering group to be in violation of local gambling advertisement statutes. However, the maximum fine is $5,500; a mere drop in the ocean for Tabcorp, whose annual revenue tallies up to about $2 billion.
A spokesperson for the regulatory body confirmed that they are investigating the incident to determine if Tabcorp has breached any advertising laws.
NSW Greens Furious over Gambling Promo
NSW Greens MLC Justin Field spoke with Hack this morning, confirming the jellybean handout. “Most people were getting handed a packet of jellybeans,” he said.
He was clearly disturbed by the probability of such promotional material ending up in the hands of children. “We know they’re going to go in people’s bags and be thrown on the table at the end of the day and end up in the hands of kids,” he argued.
“This is a new low,” Field continued. “Tabcorp has a moral responsibility. I don’t think they should need Liquor and Gaming to tell them this isn’t an appropriate form of advertising.”
Australia Gambling Giant Defends its Promotion
Hack also received a statement from a spokesperson at Tabcorp, who defended the company’s jellybean handout. The Australian gambling giant said it only gave out the free candies in central Sydeny to people who were age 25 and up, commemorating the upcoming horseracing championships in April.
Tabcorp said that, along with jellybeans, the giveaway material also included stress balls and mints with general TAB branding only, and that the company did not breach advertising laws as the freebies contained no promotion of odds or illicit encouragement for recipients to make a wager.