The mother of a 16-year-old boy has had to remortgage her previously paid-off home to cover her son’s debts after he gambled nearly AU$100,000 (US$66,050) in local gaming venues.
The Melbourne mother has also had to cash out her retirement fund and take on extra work to help cover costs.
none have been able to help because of his age and his unwillingness to stop gambling
Despite contacting various organizations and individuals last April to help her son – including Australian politician Ged Kearney and activist Tim Costello – none have been able to help because of his age and his unwillingness to stop gambling.
Alerted by the mother, the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission has charged several gambling venues. One such location was the Preston Hotel, which was fined AU$15,000 (US$9,841). Failing to properly supervise gaming machines, the venue allowed the teenage boy to gamble AU$2,500 (US$1,640) in May and September 2022.
A lawyer representing the Preston Hotel and its operator Ben Niall stated that the 16-year-old had spent between two and five minutes wagering the total amount, with individual bets ranging from AU$100 (US$65) to AU$760 (US$498).
The lawyer said the amount gambled was a small proportion compared to other venues. However, magistrate Carolyn Howe said that it was the fact that the boy could gamble any amount that enabled his addiction. She added that protecting young children rested on the venue operator.
Niall said after the sentencing: “We can make a profit without having to prey on children.”