ALH Group Ordered to Pay $550k Fine For Poor Gambling Harm Prevention
One of Australia’s biggest pokies operators has been hit with a six-figure fine after failing to install responsible gambling technology on electronic gaming machines (EGMs).
Let’s take a look at the full details of the breach and what it means for the future of gambling harm prevention in Victorian communities.
Details of the Breach
In late 2021, the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) received an anonymous tip-off regarding a number of Australian Leisure and Hospitality Group (AHL Group) venues.
After a blitz inspection across multiple venues in Victoria, the VGCCC found 220 gaming machines without YourPlay mandatory pre-commitment technology installed. All the machines identified (across 62 of 77 AHL venues) were immediately turned off.
In November 2022, the VGCCC formally charged ALH Group with 62 counts of failing to ensure YourPlay was properly installed.
According to the VGCCC, the magistrate found the breach to be ‘serious and wilful’. However, the ALH’s early guilty plea and their cooperation with the VGCCC were considered when handing down the fine, which was reduced to $550,000 from the maximum of $1.35 million.
In addition to the fine, the group was ordered to pay $50,000 in legal costs to VGCCC.
VGCCC CEO Annette Kimmitt AM was pleased with the verdict, which she says demonstrated VGCCC’s commitment to pursuing operators who deliberately contravene their obligations to protect gambling harm in the community.
“Gambling providers need to pay close attention to their obligations because the consequences for getting it wrong can be significant,” she said.
YourPlay is the statewide pre-commitment scheme that lets players set time and loss limits when playing pokies. The goal is to help them make better and more informed decisions about their gambling to reduce gambling harm. In Victoria, it’s mandatory on all electronic gaming machines.
Given the importance of the YourPlay scheme to reduce gambling harm, the VGCCC requested that the gravity of the breach be fully considered when sentencing.
ALH Group is Australia’s largest operator of electronic gaming machines. The group offers a range of leisure and entertainment venues across Australia. Owned by Endeavour Group, they employ over 15,000 people at over 350 licensed venues in regional and metro locations across Australia.
Of the breach and subsequent fine, an Endeavour Group spokesperson said, “We have acknowledged our shortcomings on this serious matter and have taken steps to seek to improve our compliance management. We will continue to work constructively with the VGCCC.”
Regulators, government and community members are all calling for more to be done to combat gambling harm in Victoria, including the introduction of new laws.
So we’re likely to see more cases of whistleblowing from the community against gambling providers who deliberately contravene their responsibilities.
The VGCCC welcomes information from the public, encouraging community members who have concerns about gambling providers or gambling machines to get in contact. Anyone in the community is welcome to make an anonymous tip-off to the VGCCC ‘Tip-Off’ page.
- VGCCC “ALH Group ordered to pay $550,000 fine for failures to minimise gambling harm”, https://www.vgccc.vic.gov.au/media-release/alh-group-ordered-pay-550000-fine-failures-minimise-gambling-harm
- Canberra Times “Pokies giant to pay up for gambling control breaches”, https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/8323654/pokies-giant-to-pay-up-for-gambling-control-breaches/
- The Shout “ALH Group hit with $550,000 fine over gambling-related failures”, https://theshout.com.au/alh-group-hit-with-550000-fine-over-gambling-related-failures/
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