It’s about time I made a start on what I like to call the Sneaky Bastards File. There are a number of means of gambling available in this country, including racing (horses and greyhounds), poker machines, casinos, sports betting and online gambling such as poker, pokies and casino games. Consequently, there are a number of laws and regulations covering different parts of the overall gambling industry. For the most part, these laws and regulations have been put in place to protect consumers and/or problem gamblers. Every now and then, however, someone finds a loophole or a way around these rules, and expolits it for their own benefit. And “exploit” is exactly the right word; making more money out of problem gamblers is nothing but exploitation.
Hence, the Sneaky Bastards File. And the first entrant into the file is the Malvern Vale hotel.
At the start of 2010, the Victorian government made amendments to the Gambling Regulation Act to ensure that ATMs in gaming venues couldn’t allow anyone to withdraw more than $400 in total, in a 24 hour period. Not a bad idea, although a dedicated problem gambler can always leave the venue to get more money if they need to (as I used to do). Still, I have no doubt that many problem or borderline-problem gamblers have benefitted by not being able to withdraw too much money while in a venue.
Enter nominee Andrew Brown of the Malvern Vale hotel. As reported in this article in today’s media, the Malvern Vale hotel have placed a sign directly above their ATM, telling customers that they can withdraw as much money as they like… by making a withdrawal via eftpos over the bar.
You see, the $400 limitation in the Gambling Regulation Act only applies to ATMs. It doesn’t apply to any other form of withdrawing cash, and it doesn’t stop venues from advertising these alternatives. Yes, the Act limits the amount that can be withdrawn (by any means) to $200 in a single transaction… but there’s nothing stopping gamblers making withdrawal after withdrawal after withdrawal, so long as it’s not via an ATM.
This is an absolute disgrace. The whole purpose of this legislation was to limit the amount of cash a gambler could access while in a gaming venue, and the reason for this was to limit the harms associated with problem gambling. But the Malvern Vale hotel has found a way around it, and they’re exploiting it for all they’re worth.
What’s more, they don’t care that their actions may have a negative impact on problem gamblers. Management at the hotel are reported as saying that they’re not concerned, as “punters could always access money from other ATMs.” That’s exactly the point! Other ATMs, meaning not in the venue!
What’s the matter, Andrew Brown? Your pokies rake in $3.8 million a year. Isn’t that enough? You are the nominee of a licenced gaming venue in the state of Victoria; you have a social responsibility to ensure that your establishment does not encourage problem gambling behaviours. Instead, your actions, and those of the management of your hotel, are absolutely despicable. You have proven that you care more about lining your pockets, than the patrons of your hotel.
You sneaky, sneaky bastards.