Two hotels are under investigation for allegedly supplying patrons with free alcohol in order to keep them playing poker machines.


  • The two NSW venues, operated by the ALH Group, are being investigated by the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority
  • The could be fined more than $100,000 if found guilty of supplying gaming patrons with free alcohol
  • Woolworths has a 75 per cent stake in the ALH Group

Liquor and Gaming New South Wales has lodged a complaint about practices in 2017 at the Westower Tavern in West Ballina and the South Tweed Tavern on the NSW north coast.

The investigation has embroiled supermarket giant Woolworths and the Alliance for Gambling Reform has called for the company to get out of the poker machine business.

Both venues are operated by the Australian Leisure and Hospitality Group (ALH), in which Woolworths has a 75 per cent stake.


Liquor and Gaming NSW said the hotels could face fines of more than $100,000 if they are found guilty of supplying gaming patrons with free alcohol

Deputy secretary Paul Newson said the “exhausting, comprehensive” investigation involved covert surveillance.

“It’s … [the] first time a disciplinary complaint of this nature has been made in NSW and I understand nationally,” he said.

“Inquiries were made across 50 properties and ultimately we were persuaded that there was a case to answer at two properties.

“The submission we have made is that alcohol was being illegally provided to gaming machine players to induce them to keep on gambling.”

Mr Newson said the allegations would now be tested by the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA).

The ALH group was approached for comment and provided the following written response:

The complaint made today to the NSW independent liquor and gaming authority (ILGA) relates to activities at two of our hotels in 2017.

An independent of 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.

Woolworths also supplied a statement to the ABC which read:

What we’re focused on with ALH is to continue to enhance its responsible gaming practices and quality service at the hotels.

Source: Abridged story from original by Bruce MacKenzie and Bronwyn Herbert

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