Canberra’s clubs have come under fire again, with recovering gambling addicts and members of the public lodging complaints about the false advertising of pokies jackpots and the visibility of pokie machines from outside of gaming venues.
Under the legislation of ACT’s Gaming Machine Act, a licensee is committing an offence if an electronic gaming machine or any of its equipment can be seen outside of the premises.
One struggling gambling addict in the ACT filed an anonymous complaint to the government saying they could see the pokie machines outside of the Ainslie Football & Social Club, which was hindering their attempts at recovery.
The complaint said, “I am trying to stay clean and exercise, but have to use the oval near my home but find seeing the machines and signs through the clubs [windows] is not helping with my situation.”
The ACT Gambling and Racing Commission visited the Ainslie Football Club to investigate the complaint, confirming they could make out the presence of the gaming machines from the external premises. A report released by the commission said the lights of the machines were visible from the outside fence and through the logos in the frosting of the windows, but that “you really had to look hard and it wasn’t clear what the lights were for.”
The commission determined no further action was required against the Ainslie Football Club, as the club was deemed to have already taken reasonable provisions with the use of frosted windows and a built-up hedge.
Another Canberra resident filed a complaint alleging that a gaming machine at Raiders Gungahlin Club was falsely advertising the games winning combinations. When playing the pokies, he believed he had landed a winning symbol combination but didn’t receive the full payout. Gaming staff on the premises agreed, but the manager and machine manufacturer later denied the symbol combination resulted in a winning pattern.
When investigated by the ACT Gambling and Racing Commission, it was determined that the punter was paid correctly, but the commission advised the machine manufacturer to make winning combinations clearer in the future.
Another complaint was lodged against the Raiders Gungahlin Club from a couple who were in the middle of a free spin on the pokies when a blackout caused the machine to shut down. They claim to have won $400 before the machine turned off, which the club paid them for, but the couple argue they could have been on a winning streak before the game was interrupted.
The commission threw out the complaint due to the fact there was no way to determine whether the couple would have won the jackpot if the blackout hadn’t occurred.
These complaints follow a list of incidents for the ACT’s gaming industry, which started when a former problem gambler, Professor Laurie Brown, revealed club employees were skirting ATM withdrawal limits by allowing punters to withdraw cash over the counter using eftpos facilities. After Professor Brown’s complaint, investigations conducted by the ACT Gambling and Racing Commission and the government Regulatory Services department reported some concerning findings, with the ACT government now looking into ways to restrict the amount of money that can be withdrawn from any club that offers gaming facilities.