Home > Legal & compliance > Tower Hotel faces record AU$1.4m fine over RG failures in Victoria

Tower Hotel faces record AU$1.4m fine over RG failures in Victoria

| By Robert Fletcher
Rumotel Pty Ltd, operator of the Tower Hotel in Victoria, could face an additional fine of up to AU$1.4m (£725,498/€838,509/US$881,548) for allegedly breaching responsible gambling rules in the Australian state.

The Victoria Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) alleges Rumotel breached its Responsible Gambling Code of Conduct. This resulted in the VGCCC issuing an additional three charges against the Tower Hotel operator. 

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.

The Responsible Gambling Code of Conduct states venues must ensure responsible gambling officers are present during gaming room operating hours. Officers should intervene where patrons display signs of distress or engage in extended play with incidents recorded in the register.

Under the Gambling Regulation Act 2003, failure to implement a Responsible Gambling Code of Conduct is a breach of an operator’s licence conditions.

“Just as you wouldn’t operate a public swimming pool without a lifeguard, venues are required to continuously monitor their gaming floors and intervene whenever the welfare of players is at risk,” VGCCC CEO Annette Kimmitt said.

“The VGCCC will continue to pursue venues that deliberately fail to apply their responsible gambling code of conducts in full.”

Charges mount up against Tower Hotel

The latest charges follow the 35 filed against the operator last month 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 kiosk.

All Victoria licensees are required to install YourPlay on gaming machines. YourPlay allows users to set optional limits of time or money spent and keep track of their machine play.

In response, the VGCCC ordered Tower Hotel to cease operating gaming machines entirely until the matter is rectified.

Last month’s charges could bring a fine of up to $758,172. This means that Rumotel could face a total penalty of as much as $2.1m.

Fine could surpass Tabcorp’s $1.0m record penalty

Both the mooted fine for the additional three charges and total penalty for the responsible gambling failures would surpass the record $1.0m that Tabcorp was fined in Victoria in September. 

This penalty relates to a major system outage at the 2020 Spring Racing Carnival. Tabcorp’s Wagering and Betting System went down during the event and was unavailable for approximately 36 hours. The Wagering and Betting Licence and Agreement requires the system to be continuously available. 

The VGCCC criticised Tabcorp’s conduct during an investigation into the case. It also hit out at Tabcorp for its response to directions from the VGCCC over the case.

At the time, the VGCCC said the seriousness of the breach warranted a record fine from the regulator.

Victoria clamping down 

Other operators to feel the wrath of the VGCCC in recent months include Australian Leisure and Hospitality Group (ALH). The regulator identified 220 ALH gaming machines that were running without YourPlay installed.

In November 2022, the VGCCC charged ALH with 62 counts of failing to ensure YourPlay was properly installed on machines across 62 of its 77 venues. A magistrate’s court hearing led to ALH being fined $550,000 and ordered to pay VGCCC legal costs of $50,000.

Back in August, BlueBet was charged for breaching rules on advertising, with the operator facing a fine of up to $945,187. BlueBet displayed three gambling ads on billboards in Victoria over the course of a fortnight last year.  

State laws ban static gambling ads from appearing in certain locations. These 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.

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