Victoria, Australia Slots Operator Faces Huge Fine, Possible Criminal Charges
Posted on: November 18, 2022, 10:04h.
Last updated on: November 18, 2022, 10:23h.
Australia’s gaming industry continues to give itself a bad name even as operators acknowledge that it’s time to clean things up. The latest company to come under fire is Australian Leisure and Hospitality Group (ALH), which previously ignored a regulator’s order in Victoria.
The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) announced Friday that it’s preparing disciplinary action against ALH. It comes as the largest slot machine operator in the country neglected to comply with responsible gambling initiatives in the state.
Specifically, ALH didn’t install state-mandated pre-commitment technology called YourPlay on the slots. The result will be a fine that could reach the seven-figure range.
Gameplay Without YourPlay
The VGCCC stated in its announcement that ALH operated 220 slots for five weeks without the mandatory responsible gaming solution. The issue came to light following an anonymous tip the regulator received last December.
That tip led to an investigation of the company’s slots in various places around Victoria, which the VGCCC confirmed didn’t offer YourPlay. Gamblers aren’t required to use the technology, but operators are required to include it.
Representatives from the VGCCC shut off the machines and submitted their reports. In total, 62 of the company’s 77 properties didn’t have YourPlay, and the regulator is going to prosecute ALH for its “widespread and significant breaches.” The case could appear before a judge in January.
The VGCCC stated the failure was serious enough to warrant a fine of as much as AU$1.35 million (US$872,318). It said it will also charge a company “executive officer” for the violation, but didn’t provide additional details. The regulator didn’t respond to a request for more information from Casino.org before press time.
Endeavor Group, ALH’s parent company, issued a statement following the announcement. It said that the error was a simple “communication failure” within the company.
YourPlay, according to its website, is a “card-based tool that players can use to track the money and time they spend” on slots and other electronic gaming machines. It allows users to set limits voluntarily and track their usage directly on the machine. Intralot provides the service for the VGCCC.
Australia Gaming Continues to Evolve
In the face of continuing fines against casino operators for dereliction of duty, fundamental changes are coming to Australia’s gaming industry. Some changes have already been put in place, while others are under review.
Condemnation over money laundering, seedy back-office deals, and shady executives have been at the forefront of the conversation for the past couple of years. As a result, regulators are poised to increase their oversight, as well as their fines.
This has already been seen in New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria where it’s become obvious that regulators are no longer willing to look the other way. The VGCCC acknowledged this in another recent announcement. It explained that it’s “cracking down on operators” that violate the rules and break the law.
The regulator added that it will have “zero tolerance” going forward. It could use the case against ALH to set an example. It hopes to send a “really clear message” to the industry, and other regulators are going to do the same.
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