The Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation (OLGR) announced the dismissal of its charges against the operator of The Ville Resort Casino (The Ville) during a Townsville Magistrates Court hearing this Monday. As reported by ABC News, the OLGR’s decision to dismiss the charges had to do with the watchdog’s inability to provide sufficient evidence that the casino establishment had violated the state’s gambling regulations.
The accusations aimed at Breakwater Island Limited, The Ville Resort Casino’s operator, concerned alleged findings of an investigation conducted by the team of the 60 Minutes programme, a show aired by Channel Nine. As previously reported by Casino Guardian, the accusations were originally made in August 2022. According to the investigators’ findings, The Ville had allegedly hired unlicensed junket operators to lure wealthy gamblers to the casino establishment.
In a response issued shortly after the programme’s airing, The Ville deemed the media report not factual and insisted on the casino’s adherence to state laws. However, December 2022 saw the OLGR officially filing charges against The Ville’s operator. Around a month later, in January 2023, The Ville pleaded “not guilty” to each of the three charges.
Penny Cottle, CEO of The Ville’s parent company, Morris Group, issued a statement following Monday’s hearing. She described the results as “vindication” of the Groups’ belief that the way they conduct their business is entirely in line with the laws of Queensland’s gambling regulator. She continued, claiming the Group never considered the charges to have a “factual” or “legal basis.” Ms Cottle also pointed out how the situation has had a negative impact on the company and its employees, as well as how the costs associated with the case’s legal proceedings have been “substantial.” She concluded by thanking the Townsville community for its support and expressing the Group’s pride in being one of the most prominent private employers within Townsville.
The Consequences of Not Complying with OLGR Laws
The core issue of the case surrounding The Ville had to do with the permit requirements of the OLGR. As per Queensland gambling law, junket operators are required to obtain a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 licence in order to be able to perform their duties in accordance with the law if they partner with a casino under a junket agreement.
Failure to comply with this or any other OLGR rules can result in gambling operators facing hefty fines or even licence suspension. An example of the OLGR’s commitment to ensuring the operators in the state operate in line with the law is the case against The Star Entertainment Group. Namely, apart from August 2023 being the month when The Ville would face the illegal junket accusations, it also happened to be the month when The Star was required to pay a fine amounting to AU$140,000 after being found guilty of a total of eleven offences in relation to the casino allowing patrons to gamble with credit cards.
Another situation that, unlike what happened with The Ville, did not end well for a gambling operator was that of Cairns Reef Hotel. The allegations against Cairns Reef Hotel were in relation to the casino’s operator having made a deal with junket operator Lawrence Fu. As Lawrence Fu did not possess the necessary licence and Cairns Reef Hotel’s dealings with him were not approved by the OLGR, the OLGR cracked down on the illegal actions and the gambling business was forced to pay an AU$21,400 fine.