ALH Group has been slapped with a $550,000 penalty for inadequate gambling harm prevention measures.
The group, who are one of Australia’s largest pokies operators, were fined for failing to implement responsible gambling measures on electronic gaming machines across a number of Victorian venues.
Let's take a look at the specifics of the breach and the potential impact on gambling in New Zealand.
Towards the end of 2021, the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) received an anonymous tip regarding the Australian Leisure and Hospitality Group (ALH Group). Following an inspection across several Victorian venues, the regulators discovered 220 gaming machines didn’t have the mandatory pre-commitment technology known as YourPlay installed.
YourPlay was introduced to mitigate gambling-related harm, allowing players to set limits on time and losses while playing pokies.
Out of 77 ALH Group venues, 62 were identified as non-compliant and immediately switched off.
This breach highlights the importance for gambling operators to adhere to responsible gambling regulations, an issue shared with New Zealand, where approximately one in five people will experience gambling harm in their lifetime.
During legal proceedings, the magistrate said the breach was both 'serious and wilful'. However, the early admission of guilt and cooperation with VGCCC meant the fine was reduced from a potential maximum of $1.35 million. ALH Group was also ordered to pay an additional $50,000 to cover the legal costs of VGCCC.
The outcome reflects VGCCC's dedication to holding gambling operators accountable. To ensure they meet their obligations of preventing gambling-related harm in the Victorian community. New Zealand shares a similar commitment to supporting responsible gambling practices.
YourPlay, is a pre-commitment scheme allowing players to establish time and loss limits while playing pokies and slot machines. It plays an important role in minimising gambling-related harm in Victoria, which could see New Zealand regulators follow suit.
The story of a problem gambler who lost his entire life savings before passing away from a heart attack prompted the beginning of countrywide reform for NZ. Jan Tinetti, the country’s Internal Affairs Minister, confirmed there are gaps where harmful gambling takes place in New Zealand pubs and clubs that need to be addressed.
Both Australian and New Zealand gamblers can play online betting sites and visit venues to play pokies. But in Australia, different rules and restrictions are set by states.
In New Zealand, all forms of gambling fall under the NZ Gambling Act.
As communities and governments continue to call for stronger measures to combat gambling harm in Australia, similar sentiments are emerging in New Zealand.
Manatū Hauora, the Ministry of Health, may begin to get similar alerts from concerned community members in an effort to protect people from potential gambling harm and ensure responsible gambling practices.
The failure of ALH Group to implement responsible gambling technology, and subsequent fines, sends a strong message to Australian and New Zealand gambling operators. With an increased focus on player well-being in both countries, New Zealand authorities can draw insights from this and similar incidents in Australia, to boost their own efforts to foster safer gambling environments.
Lily, a Casino Content Specialist, has amassed an impressive wealth of experience in the iGaming industry for well over a decade. She infuses this experience with each review, casino guide, and blog post. She spends her time playing titles like Mega Moolah and Starburst when not writing or spending time with her family in Auckland.Read more about the author