Australia’s Top Electronic Gaming Machines Operator Fined in Victoria

Posted on: December 21, 2023, 06:51h. 

Last updated on: December 21, 2023, 10:45h.

The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) has fined the Australian Leisure and Hospitality Group (ALH) for not playing by the rules. The Endeavour Group subsidiary reportedly operated electronic gaming machines (EGM) outside of permitted hours at several of its properties.

The Albion Charles Hotel in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
The Albion Charles Hotel in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. The property is one of several owned by Australian Leisure and Hospitality Group to have violated responsible gambling regulations. (Image: The Herald Sun)

The gaming regulator said in a press release on Thursday that it hit ALH with a fine of AU$480,000 (US$323,760). This latest penalty brings the total of fines issued this year against ALH for EGM-related offenses to more than $1 million.

The VGCCC’s investigation revealed that ALH had operated EGMs at eight of its venues outside of designated operating hours, and had failed to adhere to mandatory shutdown periods. These shutdowns are a requirement to ensure that EGM users have regular breaks and aren’t exposed to extended periods of continuous gambling.

Victoria Keeps its Eye on ALH

ALH’s out-of-hours operations involved 15 EGMs across eight venues, running from February to May of this year. The affected venues included the First and Last Hotel, the Croxton Park Hotel, the Albion Charles Hotel, the Berwick Inn Taverner, The Millers Inn Hotel, the Village Green Hotel, and the Elsternwick Hotel.

Of the amount, the VGCCC imposed a penalty of AU$60,000 (US$40,470) specifically for the Boundary Taverner’s violations. That fine was for violations on May 25, although the regulator didn’t specify why it singled out the property.

All establishments that offer EGMs in Victoria have to provide the VGCCC with the operating hours of the machines. They also have to turn off the machines every day for four hours to curb gambling harm.

Earlier this year, ALH, which has 4,690 machines in 76 venues in Victoria, received a fine of AU$550,000 (US$370,975) in the state. That was after an investigation revealed that it had failed to install mandatory pre-commitment technology, known as YourPlay, on 220 EGMs.

YourPlay is a system that allows players to set time and loss limits. This allows them to make informed gambling decisions, and its mandatory installation aims to promote responsible gambling practices.

New South Wales Advances Controls

In a separate development, the government of New South Wales (NSW) is pushing forward with changes to EGM operations. It’s aiming to become the state with the most stringent responsible gambling practices in Australia.

NSW announced a week ago that it had approved the expansion of a cashless gaming trial across the state. It will cover 4,500 EGMs in 28 properties in 24 different regional jurisdictions. This expansion follows a recommendation from an independent group created this past July to oversee gambling reform in the state.

The trial’s minimum criteria include anti-money laundering safeguards, harm minimization and privacy protections, and enhanced data security. The NSW government has already granted conditional approval to five technology providers to participate in the new trial.

These initiatives reflect the growing emphasis on responsible gambling practices in Australia, with both Victoria and NSW taking proactive steps to minimize gambling harm. The VGCCC’s enforcement actions and the NSW government’s proposed reforms exemplify legislators’ determination to emphasize responsible gambling across the country.