Two poker players and a former employee claim Marlow Hotel Group offered problem gamblers cash incentives in New South Wales.
Australia.- The New South Wales Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority (ILGA) has reported that Marlow Hotel Group is under investigation after being accused of giving problem gamblers free alcohol and cash payouts of up to $1,050 a week to continue gambling.
Under NSW legislation, poker player prizes and promotions are allowed as long as the value is less than $1,000, and they cannot be redeemed for cash. Venues are also prohibited from serving alcohol to encourage more frequent gambling or play.
However, those who have made the complaint claimed that gamers were given secret rewards cards with a daily balance of $150 that could be withdrawn as cash or used to buy groceries or cigarettes. They claim overnight deposits include three $50 denominations that players could use at three venues: Bank Tavern in Kogarah, Intersection Hotel in Ramsgate and Royal Hotel in Carlton.
Jason Marlow, the owner of Marlow Hotel Group, told the Daily Telegraph the reward cards were no longer available and that the loyalty programme was cancelled in 2019. The ILGA has launched an investigation into the company to determine if any laws were breached.
In March, the regulator reported that it had fined The Rose and Crown Hotel in Parramatta for offering incentives to its customers. According to the ILGA, the pub’s staff borrowed money from safes and offered free drinks and cigarettes for people to keep them playing pokie machines.
Staff also allowed credit and debit card withdrawals of at least $145,000 from electronic money transfer machines in the pub in 2017 and 2018.
ILGA’s authority chair Phil Crawford said: “The hotel was essentially facilitating cash advances for gambling via a system of fake transactions, and this is an obvious risk for problem gambling.”