Following an anonymous tip-off in late 2021, the VGCCC carried out an inspection of various ALH venues across Victoria. The regulator identified 220 gaming machines that were running without the YourPlay mandatory pre-commitment technology installed.
All licensees in the Australia state running gaming machines must install YourPlay on their terminals. YourPlay allows players to set limits of time or money spent and keep track of their machine play in Victoria.
In November 2022, the VGCCC charged ALH with 62 counts of failing to ensure YourPlay was properly installed on gaming machines across 62 of its 77 venues. ALH is the largest operator of gaming machines in Australia.
VGCCC slams ALH for “serious and wilful” breaches
The case was heard at a magistrates court, during which the VGCCC argued that the gravity and wilful nature of ALH’s contravention be considered a primary factor in sentencing. It also noted the role the YourPlay scheme plays in lowering gambling harm in Victoria.
Ruling on the case, the magistrate agreed the breaches were serious and wilful. As such, ALH was issued with the $550,000 fine and ordered to pay VGCCC legal costs of $50,000.
The magistrate also noted ALH’s early guilty plea and cooperation with the VGCCC. It said these were factors in reducing the fine from the maximum of $1.35m.
“This outcome demonstrates the VGCCC’s commitment to pursuing those operators who opportunistically or deliberately contravene their obligations to protect the community from gambling harm,” VGCCC CEO Annette Kimmitt said.
“Gambling providers need to pay close attention to their obligations because the consequences for getting it wrong can be significant.”
Clamping down on regulatory breaches in Victoria
ALH is the latest operator to face regulatory action in Victoria. Earlier this week, the VGCCC charged BlueBet for breaching state rules on advertising. The operator faces a fine of up to AU$945,187.
The charges relate to BlueBet displaying three gambling ads on billboards in Victoria over a fortnight last year. According to the VGCCC, this was in breach of state laws, which ban static gambling ads from appearing in certain locations.
Prohibited sites include on public transport infrastructure, within 150 metres of a school’s perimeter and on or above a public road, road infrastructure or road reserve.
Victoria pushes ahead with gambling reform
The announcement comes against a backdrop of gambling reform in Victoria.
Earlier this month, the VGCCC announced a blanket ban on betting on all under-19 sports competitions. This covers sporting events where all participants are minors and prohibits betting on the individual performance of any athlete aged under 18 when playing in senior or junior events.
Victoria last month also announced new reforms aimed at reducing harms from electronic gaming machines.
Changes include mandatory pre-commitment limits, identity verification through carded play, reduced load-up limit, curfews in venues enforced between 4am and 10am and reduced spin speed.
The reforms remain subject to final approval.