Staff working at poker machine venues owned and operated by a Woolworths subsidiary were told to spy on punters and report the information.
The information was then used to keep the ‘high value’ punters gambling with as much as possible for as long as possible in an attempt to boost profits. The inquiry into the matter has found the policy is antithetical to the responsible gambling values the company claims to support.
In responding to the investigation, the subsidiary; Australian Leisure and Hospitality Group (ALH) has fired and disciplined staff at more than 20 venues, most in Queensland.
The allegations against ALH were first aired by Andrew Wilkie, a federal MP who is strongly anti-poker machine. Since then, a whistle-blower has revealed that staff were recording detailed information about top customers in order to prompt to spend more time and more money gambling.
Information gathered was comprehensive and even included what footy team they supported. This information was then allegedly accessed by new staff so that they could get up to speed on how to manage VIP gamblers.
The whistle-blower has said that a great deal of information was electronically recorded so that anyone within the ALH system could access them.
Woolworths had said it will investigate the allegations, and has admitted that it has a “customer service program” that was being used at a few venues in Queensland over a 6 month period.
Regarding the scheme, ALH said that it “gave rise” to “recording descriptive information” and that it was “below ALH’s expectations” as well as “contrary to its policies”.
A few venues in NSW were also caught up in the scandal.
ALH has said that disciplinary action would be used where bad management had been observed, and that training for staff regarding customer privacy would be expanded.