Tweed pub investigated for intentionally boozing up gamblers
A TWEED tavern is being investigated by the liquor and gambling watchdog following allegations it intentionally provided free alcohol to keep pokies players gambling.
The NSW Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority is reviewing the complaint following inspections of more than 50 hotels across the state.
The investigation included covert surveillance, coercive interviews of licensees, staff and other witnesses, review of CCTV, and examination of records and systems.
A representative for the ILGA said disciplinary action was being considered for two ALH-run hotels on the North Coast: the South Tweed Tavern and the Westower Tavern at West Ballina.
The ALH Group is owned by supermarket giant Woolworths and has been accused of gathering personal details about pokies players to keep them gambling and maximise revenue.
Two other Sydney venues were also investigated but there was "insufficient evidence to proceed to a formal complaint".
An ILGA representative said the complaints alleged supplying free booze to customers was "systematic".
"The complaint lodged with ILGA alleges that the practice of supplying gaming patrons free alcohol was systemic at both North Coast hotels," they said.
"Under NSW gaming laws, it is illegal to offer or supply free or discounted alcohol to induce gambling.
"ILGA has broad disciplinary powers where it is satisfied that any of the grounds on which the complaint was made apply. It is not appropriate to make any further comment until ILGA has considered the complaint."
The representative said hotels that breached gaming laws faced fines up to $110,000 and suspension or cancellation of licences.
The Tweed Daily News contacted the South Tweed Tavern for comment and was directed to an ALH representative.
The representative said an independent review of gambling practices had taken place since the complaint was made.
"The complaint made today to the NSW Independant Liquor and Gaming Authority relates to activities at two of our hotels in 2017," they said.
"An independent management review into ALH responsible gambling practices was conducted in 2018. As a result of the investigation ALH took a number of steps to enhance its responsible gaming practices.
"As the matter is now before ILGA we will be making no further comment at this stage."