MEDIA BEAT-UP ON ALH GAMING SCHEME LACKS UNDERSTANDING

In Anti Liquor & Gaming by Clyde Mooney

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The National Broadcaster has taken a swipe at ALH and Woolworths for the pub operator’s scheme to assist gamblers with problems.

In an apparent misinterpretation of the realities of the problem gamblers it is claiming to champion, the ABC has ‘slammed’ Australian Leisure & Hospitality (ALH), branding its mixed-use loyalty and pre-commitment scheme – intended to aide patrons needing a personal solution – as immoral and a ‘Trojan horse’.

The article cites Woolworths as 96 per cent owners of ALH, and that the scheme is a “direct response to government calls for harm minimisation measures” in Victoria.

ALH, which is in fact 75 per cent owned by Woolworths, prides itself on going beyond what is required by regulations on responsible service of alcohol and gaming, and provided PubTIC with some facts on its Monty’s rewards program.

“ALH has partnered with Bally Technologies to deliver Voluntary Pre commitment technology across all of our electronic gaming machines nationally by end of 2015.

“[We] have a venue loyalty program called Monty’s. Monty’s Rewards members enjoy a range of benefits including discounts on food and beverages. Customers can earn points by visiting our bistros, bars and gaming areas.

“Customers with a Monty’s branded card can access and use pre-commitment functionality with or without participating in the venue loyalty system.

“In this way, customers can access pre-commitment functionality discreetly and without any negative stigma.”

The optional pre-commitment functionality can be used to limit spend and/or time on machines, and aims to assist customers to gamble responsibly – particularly those that are sensitive to asking for help with a potential problem.

Pre-commitment settings can be determined at the hotel or online, and voluntary pre-commitment and responsible gambling dynamic messages appear on the screen.

Victorian Gaming Minister Jane Garrett came out in defence of the benefits of the pre-commitment option in the Monty’s system, and loyalty systems generally, and would not be cornered on questions regarding their ‘contradiction’.

“I’m not tarnishing all of those people who work in this industry and all of the people who enjoy going out to venues and taking their kids out to dinner,” she said.

ALH operates 330 licensed venues and over 500 retail liquor outlets across Australia, employing almost 16,000 people and offering sports bars, bistros, restaurants, cafes, electronic gaming, retail liquor, accommodation, nightclubs and wagering.

Bally declined to comment on the subject.

ALH's Young & Jacksons, Melbourne

ALH’s Young & Jacksons, Melbourne