The Victoria Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) charged the Preston Hotel in May this year. This followed a tip-off from a member of the public.
During its investigation, the VGCCC found a 16-year-old was able to access betting terminals and gamble at the Preston Hotel. This, the Victoria gambling regulator said, took place on six occasions between May and September 2022.
Following this initial ruling, the case was passed on to the magistrate. During the hearing, it was agreed an earlier mooted fine would be reduced and that the conviction would not be recorded. This was in response to the venue operators’ willingness to enter an early plea and take steps to rectify failings.
However, the magistrate noted the potential for long-term harm that comes from a minor gambling. The magistrate also said the onus is on the industry and venues to stop minors gambling, rather than the minor.
VGCCC CEO Annette Kimmitt welcomed the decision, saying: “It is inexcusable to accept a bet from a minor. This sends a clear message to the entire industry. Failing to prevent minors from accessing gambling products won’t be tolerated.”
First of several court dates in Victoria
This is the first of several similar cases that will be heard in court in the coming months. In September, the VGCCC charged Tabcorp, along with eight venues, for allegedly allowing minors to gamble on electronic betting terminals.
Tabcorp faced a total of 54 charges including 27 counts of underage gambling and failing to supervise terminals. A further 27 charges were filed against the venues and a Tabcorp-owned TAB agency.
A further eight venues have been named in the wider case. These include the Olympic Hotel, Brunswick Club, Edwardes Lake Hotel, Parkview Hotel, Albion Charles Hotel, Doncaster Hotel, Rose Shamrock & Thistle Hotel and Northcote TAB Agency.
Venue operators have been charged with allowing a minor to gamble, enabling a minor to enter a gaming machine area and failing to ensure machines were reasonably supervised. All venue-linked incidents took place between 8 September and 1 November last year.
Meanwhile, the TAB agency is charged with allowing a minor to gamble and failing to ensure reasonable supervision of terminals.
The maximum collective fine for the breaches was over AU$1.0m. In addition, Tabcorp could face a fine of up to $699,000.
Tower Hotel faces record $1.4m fine
Shortly after these cases came to light, it was also revealed that Rumotel, operator of the Tower Hotel in Victoria, could face an additional fine of up to AU$1.4m for allegedly breaching responsible gambling rules.
The VGCCC says Rumotel failed to ensure a responsible gambling officer was available at all times on the gaming floor. It is also alleged Rumotel did not properly maintain a responsible gambling register at the Tower Hotel in Victoria.
This resulted in the VGCCC issuing an additional three charges against the Tower Hotel operator.
The latter charges followed the 35 filed against the operator September for allegedly breaching gambling control rules in Victoria.
Earlier charges relate to Rumotel failing to ensure staff had completed compulsory training. Rumotel also failed to have YourPlay mandatory pre-commitment technology functioning on its electronic gaming machines and kiosks.