Australian pokies giant facing $1.35m fine from VGCCC

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The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) is charging one of Australia’s biggest hotel groups for allegedly having slot machines without the mandatory YourPlay player controls. The Australian Leisure and Hospitality Group (ALH) is facing 62 charges and a possible fine of $1.35 million ffor operating 220 gaming machines for as long as five weeks in contravention of the Gambling Regulation Act.

The VGCCC discovered this after launching an investigation into the hotel chain’s venues in Sandringham, Narre Warren, Mulgrave, Hallam, Laverton and Cheltenham. The commission’s inspectors visited these venues multiple times after being prompted by an anonymous tip-off in December 2021. Meanwhile, the company switched off all the non-complying machines spread across 62 of its 77 venues after the visits.

“Anyone who holds a gambling licence in Victoria is on notice that they must, at a minimum, comply with their legal obligations to protect patrons from gambling harm,” said Annette Kimmitt, CEO of the commission.

“Having YourPlay installed and available on electronic gaming machines is a mandatory requirement to support safer gambling.”

YourPlay is a state-wide pre-commitment scheme mandated by legislation to be installed on all gaming machines in Victoria. It is a card-based personal gaming tracker that gives the player a total of the money and time spent so they can make informed decisions about their gaming. Players can also use the system to set limits on how much they spend and how long they play for.

In an official statement in response to the charges, Steve Donohue, CEO of Endeavour Group, the parent company of ALH, expressed contrition for the offense. He added the company conducted an internal review concerning the case and found out it was an “isolated but regrettable case of process and communication failure in our internal supply chain”.

“We are acutely aware of the seriousness of this matter and we are committed to doing all we can to ensure it does not happen again,” he added.

“At Endeavour, we hold ourselves to the highest standard of responsibility, we regret that this has occurred.

“We can confirm YourPlay is active on all Victorian machines that we operate, with ALH also offering voluntary pre-commitment at all venues on the mainland, as part of our national standard.”

Meanwhile, alongside ALH, an unnamed ALH executive will also be prosecuted for failure to ensure player equipment was installed in line with the rules. The case will be brought before Melbourne Magistrates Court in January.

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