Queensland’s casino industry watchdog under fire for lack of enforcement action

Maria Debrincat 1 year ago
Queensland’s casino industry watchdog under fire for lack of enforcement action

Data from Queensland’s Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation (OLGR) show that none of the state’s casinos have faced any legal action for the past five fiscal years, local news reported.

A whistleblower with firsthand knowledge of the Queensland casino business claims told Australia’s ABC News that the the oversight agency is “asleep at the wheel.” The time period spans from 2017 to 2022.

Tim Costelllo
Chief advocate for the Alliance for Gambling Reform Tim Costello.

With a total of 14 land-based casinos in Australia, Queensland has the most of any state or territory. The four casinos in Queensland (The Star Gold Coast, Brisbane’s Treasury Casino, Townsville’s The Ville Resort-Casino, and Cairns’ The Reef Hotel Casino) are all regulated by the OLGR.

The Ville Resort Casino employee who pled guilty to gaining a benefit for another person by a dishonest act under the Casino Control Act and was fined $800 was the only successful prosecution the regulator has been able to bring.

The report also showed that, in 2021, only two infraction notifications were given to operators, with no casino operators receiving fines under the Casino Control Act.

According to a person familiar with the Queensland regulator’s operations, there are insufficient resources available for the agency to efficiently regulate casinos.

“They rely heavily on self-reporting by the casino operators and that requires a level of trust, which has clearly been misplaced when it comes to casino operators. Time and again, we’ve seen casino operators intentionally misleading and hiding serious issues from the regulators.

At the end of the day, if casino operators face a real threat of enforcement actions arising from breaches, they’ll simply not self-report those breaches,” the source told the network.

Tim Costello, the chief spokesman for the Alliance for Gambling Reform, was cited as saying Queensland was “a completely lawless state” in terms of casino regulation. Mr. Costello claimed that the Queensland government’s close ties to the casino sector were to blame for the lack of enforcement.

He emphasised the necessity of making Queensland’s regulator, which is housed under the Justice Department, independent of the executive branch, as had been done in New South Wales and Victoria.

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