Australian Pub Owner Investigated for Incentivizing Gamblers with Booze, Cash

Posted on: April 11, 2022, 06:38h. 

Last updated on: April 13, 2022, 12:56h.

A hospitality company in Australia is now in hot water with New South Wales. The company allegedly violated gaming laws by giving away booze and money to gamblers.

Bank Tavern
The Bank Tavern, one of the pubs owned by Australia’s Marlow Hotel Group. It, along with a couple of others, may have violated gambling regulations. (Image: Marlow Hotel Group)

Multibillion-dollar operators like Crown Resorts and Star Entertainment have allegedly damaged the image of Australia’s gaming industry almost to the point of no return. Then there are the smaller players, like Marlow Hotel Group, that seem intent on driving the last nail into the coffin.

New South Wales (NSW) wants to learn more about Marlow Hotel Group’s operational strategies, according to the Daily Mail. NSW’s gaming regulator, Liquor and Gaming NSW, is investigating the company and its practices.  It’s putting Marlow under the microscope after a former employee and two customers came forward and called out the company for its antics.

The company owns several bars around the Sydney area and allegedly maintained a policy of using money and liquor to keep bar patrons busy on the gaming machines.

Too Many Giveaways

Marlow was allegedly adept at identifying those individuals who spent much of their time in the bars gambling on the machines. Not wanting them to stop, the company gave them alcohol and cash, some up to AU$1,050 (US$780).

Giving away money is a problem as well. As the Daily Mail points out, it’s acceptable for gamblers to receive promotional items, but there’s a limit. The prizes cannot be worth more than AU$1,000 (US$743) and cannot be converted into cash.

Those rules didn’t stop Marlow, according to the allegations. Certain individuals received reward cards that had daily allowances of AU$150 (US$111). Individuals could use them for purchasing food, cigarettes, and more.

The players had to split the amount equally between three Marlow venues, The Bank Tavern in Kogarah, Intersection Hotel in Ramsgate, and the Royal Hotel in Carlton. The whistleblowers asserted that each location had anywhere from 15 to 20 players Marlow incentivized with the promotion.

Giving away booze has long been common in cities like Las Vegas. However, the practice faces calls for it to be eliminated to reduce gambling harm. There are obvious issues that arise from imbibing too much. But some issues aren’t as obvious.

Marlow On Shaky Ground

Marlow is the same company that became a recent target of NSW for a different but similar, reason. The company owns the Rose and Crown, which received a fine of $107,358 (US$77,759) for giving away booze and making illegal loans.

Now, Liquor and Gaming NSW will dive once more into the company’s activity to determine if the allegations are true. Much of the investigation will rely on testimony from participants. As the former employee pointed out, accounting practices allowed the scheme to be reported as “wastage or promotion/miscellaneous.”

Many regulars reportedly knew about the program, even if they didn’t qualify. Their testimony will likely play a role in what happens next. So will that of the employee, who asserts that some patrons routinely lost more than AU$10,000 (US$7,439) in a single session.

Jason Marlow, who oversees Marlow’s operations, told the Daily Telegraph that the company no longer uses the cards. He asserts that it abandoned the program over three years ago. However, according to the recent allegations, that may not be totally accurate.