The Illawarra Steelers Rugby League Club in Wollongong has suffered a massive blow due to a record AU$100,000 fine which was imposed on the venue for it offering free drinks and large cash incentives to encourage patrons to spend more on its poker machines.
The violations happened under Scott Miles, the former general manager of the club, who is currently in jail for misappropriating AU$1 million from the venue to fund his compulsive gambling. He has also received a life-long ban from the industry.
LIFE BAN: Former secretary of the Illawarra Steelers Rugby League Club Scott Miles has been banned from the industry for life, and the club has been fined $100,000 by the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority. Details tonight on @WINNews_Woll
— Katie Gallagher (@KGallagherWIN) October 5, 2018
According to the findings of the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority, the Club’s staff were putting cash advances amounting to as much as AU$40,000 through EFTPOS machines. Gamblers have also been offered free drinks as part of the incentives aimed at making them spend more time and money on the machines. The authority revealed that there were breaches of local gaming machine regulations and liquor laws, and hit the club with the monetary fine which was the largest one ever imposed by the regulatory body.
The breaches found were “serious and systemic, and there were consumer harms posed by unlawfully incentivising gamblers and obscuring credit transactions”, the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority said.
The regulatory body explained that it needed to act appropriately to the scale of the violations in order to make sure that the industry gets the message. It also described the breaches as unacceptable.
Further Measures Needed, Says Alliance for Gambling Reform
Justin Field, Member of Parliament from the NSW Greens political party commented on the findings, saying that the seriousness of the breaches raised significant concerns about the Steelers Rugby League Club’s Governance and said that the special deal between the NSW Coalition and the state’s clubs industry seemed ineffective.
For the time being, there are 101 poker machines in the Steelers Club, which is ranked on the 147 out of 1,101 poker machines clubs in the state of New South Wales in terms of profit.
The Alliance for Gambling Reform, however, says further measures against the club needs to be taken apart from the AU$100,000 fine. Despite the fact that it welcomed the financial penalty against the Club, the Alliance said that the maximum fine of AU$275,000 should have been imposed. The organisation has also called for the president of the ClubsNSW, Mr. Newell, to resign.
Mr. Newell, however, has revealed that he has no such intentions. Reportedly, he has shared that the Club’s board was absolutely unaware of the illegal activities before the internal investigation took place. The Club’s president further said that once the breaches were found, the club itself reported the violations to the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority.
Furthermore, the Alliance for Gambling Reform insisted that the Government of New South Wales needed to make sure that such breaches did not happen again. According to the organisation, the state’s gambling regulation is one of the most relaxed ones on a global scale.