A New South Wales hotel has been hit with fines and legal costs of almost AUS$40,000 (£23,527/€26,925) for operating gaming machines outside authorized hours on at least 40 days over a six-month period.
Golden Crown Pty Ltd, corporate licensee of the Leeton Hotel in the Riverina region, and its director Trent Middleton were each fined $14,000 following an investigation by Liquor & Gaming NSW.
Hospitality and Racing chief executive Anthony Keon said these were serious breaches of the state’s gaming laws and the penalties send a clear message to other venue operators who do not comply with NSW’s requirements for the operation of gaming machines.
“These restrictions are in place to reduce risks of gambling harm by limiting the amount of time patrons can spend playing gaming machines,” Keon said.
“The Leeton Hotel showed a repeated disregard for the law along with the well-being of its patrons who were placed at greater risk of gambling harm.”
“As this penalty shows, venues who fail to abide by gaming machine trading hours can expect to be caught and face the full force of the law.”
The hotel operates 14 gaming machines and is authorized to trade until 1am Monday through Saturday and 10pm on Sundays.
Liquor & Gaming NSW reviewed the hotel’s gaming activity and found that between April and October 2021, its gaming machines had been operated outside these hours on at least 40 separate dates, mainly in the early hours of Saturday or Sunday mornings and after 10pm on Sunday nights . The profit derived from the illegal trading was about $9,305.
When interviewed, Middleton said he believed there was a 45-minute grace period for gaming following cessation of trade.
Both Middleton and Golden Crown pleaded guilty to breaches of the Gaming Machines Act, and Middleton told the court that he had donated the profit accrued through the unlawful operation of the machines to charity.
Each party was awarded and fined $14,000 with a further total of $10,800 in costs.
In sentencing, the Local Court Magistrate said the “primary mischief caused’ was “a failure to ensure harm minimization compliance” and that the offending was not trivial or isolated in terms of volume.