A New South Wales hotel has been struck with fines and legal costs of almost A$40,000 for operating gaming machines outside authorised hours on at least 40 days over a six-month period.
This also saw Golden Crown, corporate licensee of the Leeton Hotel, Leeton, and its director Trent Middleton each fined $14,000 following an investigation by Liquor & Gaming NSW.
Anthony Keon, Hospitality and Racing CEO, said these were serious breaches of the state’s gaming laws and that these penalties send “a clear message” to other venue operators who don’t comply with state 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 noted.
“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.”
It is noted that the hotel operates 14 gaming machines and is authorised to trade until 1am Monday through Saturday and 10pm on Sundays.
However, following an investigation it was found that between April and October 2021 machines had been operated outside these hours on at least 40 separate dates. The profit derived from the illegal trading was estimated to be in the region of $9,305.
Upon being quizzed on the unlawful activity, 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, with the former telling the court that he had donated the profit accrued through the operation of the machines to charity. Each party was convicted and fined $14,000 with a further total of $10,800 in costs awarded.
In sentencing, a local court magistrate said the “primary mischief caused” was “a failure to ensure harm minimisation compliance” and that the offending was not trivial or isolated in terms of volume.