May 30, 2024 3 min read


Tabcorp in Court for Failing to Prevent Autistic Child from Gambling

An underage boy with autism carried a scooter and wagered thousands of dollars via gambling venues around Melbourne

Gambling affects a large part of the population in Australia. The activity is identified as a serious public health issue which is a prime reason for the recent overhaul of the gambling sector across the country. But while gambling can affect adults, it is also popular among children.

Amid cases of children gambling, in January this year, casinos around Victoria enforced the use of vouchers for electronic betting terminals (EBTs). This required the visitors to exchange cash for vouchers at the desk of an employee of the casino. Ultimately, the measure seeks to prevent children from engaging in gambling.

However, before the voucher system was implemented, there was an opportunity for children to gamble if they were not stopped by casino staff. This is the case of an autistic boy from Melbourne who spent thousands of Australian dollars while gambling online and placing wagers via EBTs.

The young man accumulated an online debt of AU$17,000 ($11,200) after opening betting accounts online. Moreover, he spent some AU$6,000 ($4,000) via EBTs around Melbourne. The name of the young child was not disclosed due to his age, but he is suspected of having engaged in gambling between May 2022 and October 2023. Often, the autistic child carried a scooter.

The Autistic Child Reportedly Gambled at a Number of Venues

Identifying the breaches of the province’s gambling laws, the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC), the gambling regulator in the state, filed charges against Tabcorp, the operator of the gambling venues where the child illegally placed wagers.

As announced by the Herald Sun, Tabcorp entered into guilty pleas at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court earlier this week. The gambling operator’s lawyers entered into pleas over 30 charges related to allowing a minor to engage in gambling activities.

The autistic child reportedly gambled at a number of venues, including Brunswick Hotel, Preston Hotel, Olympic Hotel and Parkville Hotel. The child allegedly placed wagers at the Shoppingtown Hotel Doncaster, the Rose Shamrock and the Charles Albion, among other venues.

Before the boy’s gambling spree, his mother attempted to prevent him from gambling. She visited a range of gambling venues, handing out flyers with a picture of her son and asked casino employees not to let him gamble. The mother, whose name was not disclosed, told casino staff that her son usually carried a scooter.

In light of the guilty pleas, Tabcorp may face a fine of AU$716,955 ($473,900). It is unclear whether the operator may be subject to a conviction or a potential condition to its gambling license.

Still, Tabcorp admitted that it was “willing and able” to provide compensation for the mother of the child that gambled.


Jerome is a welcome new addition to the Gambling News team, bringing years of journalistic experience within the iGaming sector. His interest in the industry begun after he graduated from college where he played in regular local poker tournaments which eventually lead to exposure towards the growing popularity of online poker and casino rooms. Jerome now puts all the knowledge he's accrued to fuel his passion for journalism, providing our team with the latest scoops online.

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