Staff at over 22 poker machine venues owned by Australian Leisure and Hospitality (ALH) Group have been fired after an investigation found they were giving “high-value” customers free drinks and incentives in order to boost profits, an investigation has found.
In February, the ALH Group was accused by anti-pokies independent MP Andrew Wilkie of recording the gambling and drinking habits of its customers to maximize profits.
Wilkie claims that staff were rewarded with gift vouchers for meeting betting targets, while gamblers were induced to stay with drink cards and other promotions.
At the time, the ALH Group said it would investigate the claims, and also noted that it had launched a separate investigation on responsible gambling practices, conducted by the Responsible Gambling Council of Canada.
On Monday, the ALH Group issued a press release on the results of the investigations, and said it found that during an approximate six-month period commencing around June 2017, “a customer service program was operating in a limited number of venues in Queensland which gave rise to instances of ALH employees recording descriptive information about gaming customers in a manner that was below ALH’s expectations and contrary to its policies.”
ALH said the practice also extended to a small number of venues in South Australia, and two venues in New South Wales.
Commenting on the results of the investigation, Woolworths Group chairman Gordon Cairns, said: “The practices outlined in the investigation, at a limited number of hotels, are at odds with the priorities and values of our customers and the communities where we operate. At Woolworths we take our responsibilities in the community, and to gaming and the service of alcohol, very seriously.
“The ALH Group has already put in place immediate measures to address the findings of this investigation and to further boost the commitment to responsible gaming.”