The ALH Group has completed its review into responsible gaming practices, which started after allegations by MP Andrew Wilkie and Fairfax Media that pub staff recorded personal information in order to be able to encourage gamblers to stay in venues longer.
Fairfax alleged that a Google drive was shared among the ALH pub network and claimed that staff are rewarded with gift vouchers when betting targets are reached or broken.
As a result ALH established a sub-committee to investigate the claims. The investigation sub-committee consisted of the non-executive directors of ALH and was chaired by former Woolworths CEO Roger Corbett. It was advised by Minter Ellison and supported by Ernst and Young and Jonathan Forbes of counsel. ALH also said that the investigation was conducted independently of ALH management.
The investigation team conducted interviews with staff from all across its gaming business and also established a whistleblower platform to try and identify any related issues across the business. The group also said that it contacted Mr Wilkie’s office for further information, but none was forthcoming.
In detailing the team’s findings ALH said: “In summary, the investigation found that over an approximately six month period commencing in or 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.
“Practices varied across these hotels. The practice also extended (to a limited degree) to a small number of venues in South Australia, and certain aspects of the customer service program were implanted in two venues in New South Wales.”
The group added: “The investigation additionally found that, at some venues in Queensland, there was increased provision of complimentary drinks in gaming areas and that in certain instances increased customer service efforts (including the provision of complimentary drinks) were directed to high-value customers to encourage further gaming activity. These initiatives have now ceased.”
ALH said that it did not find any evidence of similar practices being used in any other states or territories, and that allegations made in relation to a patron referred to as “Queen Bee” related to a venue in Queensland and to events that took place around five years ago.