Newcastle’s Royal Inn has been caught out by gaming authorities and fined for multiple breaches relating to trading outside authorised hours.

An investigation by Liquor & Gaming NSW reviewed gaming activity at the hotel in Waratah, finding gaming machines had been operated during the venue’s 1am-7am shutdown period on three consecutive Saturdays (15, 22, 29) in April last year.

Facing charges before Downing Centre Local Court this week, the operators submitted that the incidents were a genuine misunderstanding of licence conditions by the approved manager.

The hotel’s licensee pleaded guilty to 13 offences of the Gaming Machines Act 2001.

The Magistrate stressed during sentencing that the onus was on the licensee to ensure staff were appropriately trained, suggesting a message needed to be sent to venues that possess the “highly profitable right” to operate gaming machines in NSW. 

The hotel was convicted and fined $7,540.

Jane Lin, L&G Executive Director of Regulatory Operations said these were serious breaches of the state’s gaming laws. 

“Apart from breaking the law, the Royal Inn Hotel placed its patrons at greater risk of gambling harm.  

“As this case shows, venues that fail to abide by gaming machine trading hours can expect to be caught and face significant penalties.”  

Image: Goole maps

Up in the Territory, the licensee of a pub near Katherine has been sentenced over serial breaches of the liquor laws, which include preventing sales to persons on the banned drinker register.

In July last year Licensing NT received a complaint from NT Police, regarding activities on 24 May at the Mataranka Hotel. The regulator requested, repeatedly, that CCTV footage and documentation from the day be provided.

Reportedly, some evidence was submitted, via memory sticks and other material, which revealed a series of breaches on the day, between roughly 5pm and after 8pm, which marks the end of licensed hours.

Analysis discovered multiple takeaway sales to persons who appear to be intoxicated “on any reasonable assessment” including two customers deemed likely to be on the banned drinker register.

More sales took place where customers did not have their identification scanned to cross-check with the banned drinker register, and there were two sales after 8pm, although one of these, at 8.03pm, was relegated to a “technical breach”.

In total 11 breaches were conceded by the licensee.

In February the licensing commission handed down its decision, declaring that the venue was becoming “a recidivist flouter” of the Territory’s liquor laws, having received a series of warnings and infringements in recent years.

Two warnings were issued in late 2019 for failing to ensure an acting nominee was in place at the premises and for failing to supply CCTV evidence.

Another warning came just months later, in 2020, regarding employees not matching IDs against the banned drinker register, and when operators again did not supply CCTV, the licensee was issued their first infringement, in April that year.

Another infringement was imposed mid-2022 after the venue was caught selling takeaway liquor to a person without the correct identification, and another warning given in early 2023.

The commission acknowledged that operator Westbrick P/L had recently made a number of positive changes to prevent further breaches, specifically electing to cease sales of takeaway alcohol earlier, at 6pm, and applying another staff member on takeaway sales.

Judgement determined that operator Westbrick be fined $880 and prohibited from doing any takeaway alcohol sales on (Wednesday) 20 March.

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