A New South Wales hotel has been hit with fines and legal costs of nearly AUS$40,000 (£23,527/€26,925) for operating slot machines outside of allowed hours on at least 40 days over a six-month period.
Golden Crown Pty Ltd, corporate licensee of the Leeton Hotel in the Riverina area, and its managing director Trent Middleton were each fined $14,000 following an investigation by Liquor & Gaming NSW.
Anthony Keon, CEO of Hospitality and Racing, said these were serious violations of state gambling laws and the sanctions send a clear signal to other operators of venues that fail to meet NSW’s requirements for using slot machines.
“These restrictions are in place to reduce the risks of gambling damage by limiting the amount of time customers can spend playing slot machines,” Keon said.
“The Leeton Hotel showed a repeated disregard for the law and the well-being of its customers who were at greater risk of gambling damage.”
“As this penalty shows, venues that do not adhere to slot machine trading hours can expect to be caught and given the full force of the law.”
The hotel operates 14 slot machines and is allowed to trade from Monday to Saturday until 01:00 and on Sundays until 22:00.
Liquor & Gaming NSW assessed the hotel’s gambling operations and found that between April and October 2021 the slot machines had been operated on at least 40 different dates outside of these hours, primarily in the early hours of Saturday or Sunday mornings and after 10pm on Sunday evenings. The profit from the illegal trade was about $9,305.
When interviewed, Middleton said he believed there was a 45-minute grace period for gaming after trading ceased.
Both Middleton and Golden Crown pleaded guilty to Gaming Machines Act violations, and Middleton told the court that he had donated the profits derived from the illegal exploitation of the machines to charity.
Each party was convicted and fined $14,000 with an additional $10,800 in total costs awarded.
At the sentencing, the local court magistrate said the “primary mischief caused” was “a failure to ensure compliance with damage limitation” and that the offense was not trivial or isolated in terms of volume.