Victoria's Preston Hotel Faces Fine for Underage Gambling Breaches

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The Preston Hotel in Victoria has been subjected to legal action due to instances of underage gambling. A Magistrate in the Australian state has ordered the hotel to pay a substantial fine of AU$25,300 for breaches involving betting terminals. The charges were brought forth by the Victoria Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) following a public tip-off.

Investigations revealed that a 16-year-old managed to gamble at the Preston Hotel on six different occasions between May and September 2022. The case, initially handled by the VGCCC, was subsequently escalated to the Magistrate. During the hearing, a reduced fine and non-recording of conviction were agreed upon, recognizing the venue operators' early plea and corrective actions.

However, the Magistrate emphasized the serious risk of long-term harm associated with underage gambling. The responsibility to prevent such incidents was highlighted as primarily resting with the industry and venue operators rather than the minors involved. VGCCC CEO Annette Kimmitt, endorsing the court's decision, stressed the inexcusability of accepting bets from minors and warned of the industry's intolerance towards such negligence.

Widespread Legal Actions in Victoria

This incident marks the beginning of a series of court cases in Victoria addressing similar issues. The VGCCC has brought charges against Tabcorp and eight venues, including the Olympic Hotel and Brunswick Club, for allowing minors to gamble on electronic betting terminals. Tabcorp faces 54 charges, among them 27 counts of underage gambling and inadequate supervision of terminals.

These venues are accused of permitting minors to gamble and enter gaming machine areas and failing to supervise machines adequately. These breaches reportedly occurred between 8 September and 1 November of the previous year. The TAB agency, in particular, is charged with similar offences, and the collective fines for these breaches could exceed AU$1.0 million, with Tabcorp potentially facing up to $699,000 in fines.

Record Fine for Tower Hotel

Relatedly, Rumotel, the operator of Tower Hotel in Victoria, might face an unprecedented fine of up to AU$1.4 million. The VGCCC alleges Rumotel's failure to provide a responsible gambling officer at all times on the gaming floor and to maintain a gambling register at the Tower Hotel.

These allegations have led to three additional charges against the Tower Hotel operator, following 35 charges filed in September for violations of gambling control rules. Rumotel is also accused of neglecting mandatory staff training and not implementing YourPlay pre-commitment technology on gaming machines and kiosks.

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