The Preston Hotel in Victoria, Australia has been ordered to pay a hefty sum of AU$25,300 for allowing underage gambling on betting terminals. The Victoria Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) charged the hotel following a tip-off from a concerned member of the public in May.

During the investigation, the VGCCC discovered that a 16-year-old was able to access betting terminals and gamble at the Preston Hotel on six occasions between May and September 2022. The case was brought before a magistrate, where it was decided that the initial proposed fine would be reduced and the conviction would not be recorded, as the venue operators were willing to enter an early plea and take steps to rectify their failings.

The magistrate emphasized the potential for long-term harm that comes from minors gambling and stated that the responsibility lies with the industry and venues to prevent minors from gambling. VGCCC CEO, Annette Kimmitt, welcomed the decision and stressed that accepting bets from minors will not be tolerated.

This is just the first of several similar cases to be heard in court in the coming months. Tabcorp, along with eight venues, has also been charged by the VGCCC for allowing minors to gamble on electronic betting terminals. Tabcorp faced 54 charges, including 27 counts of underage gambling and failing to supervise terminals. Additionally, a further 27 charges were filed against the venues and a Tabcorp-owned TAB agency.

The potential collective fine for the breaches in the Tabcorp case is over AU$1.0m, and Tabcorp could face a fine of up to $699,000. Furthermore, operator Rumotel of the Tower Hotel in Victoria could face a fine of up to AU$1.4m for allegedly breaching responsible gambling rules, with the VGCCC issuing an additional three charges against the operator.

The VGCCC alleges that Rumotel failed to ensure a responsible gambling officer was available at all times on the gaming floor and did not properly maintain a responsible gambling register at the Tower Hotel. Earlier charges relate to Rumotel’s failure to ensure staff had completed compulsory training and to have YourPlay mandatory pre-commitment technology functioning on its electronic gaming machines and kiosks.

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