NSW Regulator Investigates Claims Sydney Slot Machine Addicts Plied With Free Cash, Alcohol

  • Two slot machine players and an ex-employee made claims against the Marlow Hotel Group
  • Slot machine addicts allegedly received cards preloaded with a daily credit of AU$150 (US$111)
  • Liquor and Gaming NSW is investigating whether the gambling rewards scheme breaches the law
  • One woman allegedly gambled away the proceeds from an AU$1m ($745,315) house sale

 

Poker machine
A NSW regulator is investigating a family-owned Sydney hotel group after claims its venues offered problem gamblers free cash and alcohol to keep playing slot machines. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Freebies to keep gambling

Liquor and Gaming New South Wales (NSW) has launched an investigation into a Sydney hotel group.

plied slot machine addicts with alcohol and cash handouts

Two gamblers and one ex-employee of Marlow Hotel Group claim the firm’s venues plied slot machine addicts with alcohol and cash handouts to keep them gambling.

According to The Daily Mail on Sunday, the allegations suggest that gamblers addicted to the slot machines — called pokies in Australia — received reward cards. This took place at three Marlow establishments in Sydney, including The Bank Tavern in Kogarah, Intersection Hotel in Ramsgate, and the Royal Hotel in Carlton. 

Former ClubsNSW anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing manager Troy Stolz took to Twitter to share news of the investigation:

The allegations suggest that Marlow employed this strategy to incentivize gamblers to return to its bars.

Cash amounts not lawful

According to the allegations, the bars preloaded the reward cards with a daily credit of AU$150 (US$111). Gamblers could use the cards to withdraw cash and buy cigarettes or food in three daily amounts of AU$50 (US$37). The handouts allegedly totaled AU$1,050 (US$782) per customer. Around 15 to 20 players utilized the scheme at each of the three venues.

As reported by the Daily Mail, Liquor and Gaming NSW is investigating whether the gambling rewards scheme contravenes the Gaming Machines Act 2001.

prizes must “remain under $1,000 [US$745]”

The Aussie regulator stated that under some circumstances, NSW legislation allows rewards schemes for slot machine players. However, prizes must “remain under $1,000 [US$745] in value and cannot be exchanged for cash.” The body also noted a law barring establishments from supplying alcohol as an inducement to gamble or to gamble more regularly.

According to media reports, the ex-Marlow employee confirmed that high rollers received plenty of free food and drink. They said the bar usually documented this “as wastage or promotion/miscellaneous on the books.”

The NSW regulator hit Marlow-owned Rose and Crown Hotel Parramatta with an AU$107,358 ($80,015) fine in February. The venue allegedly loaned money to gamblers and offered free alcohol and cigarettes.

Gamblers blow it all

The former Marlow staff member also cited multiple instances of gamblers “broken” by their addictions.

a married father who allegedly blew AU$1m

In one instance, a woman inherited and sold a house worth over AU$1m (US$745,315), only to end up broke three years later because of her gambling addiction. Another saw a married father blow AU$1m (US$745,315) on slot machines over the last ten years. This man said the “appalling” reward cards made him gamble more.

The boss of the hotel group, Jason Marlow, told the Daily Telegraph the cards are not in current use, and that “the loyalty program […] was abandoned” in 2019.