The Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority (ILGA) in New South Wales (NSW) issued a record fine to Dee Why RSL, a military veteran’s club, for its irresponsible conduct related to the suicide committed by one of its patrons in 2018. The AUD$200,000 financial sanction imposed on the facility that contributed to the death of Gary Van Duinen exceeded the previous record fine of AUD$172,000 dished to two Woolworths-owned ALH hotels just a week ago.
Classic VIP Scheme Abuse
Gary Van Duinen, a 45-year-old self-employed builder was promoted to a “diamond” member status which entitled him to a number of benefits including VIP parking, private red-carpet entry, personalized hosting and accrual of player points to spend on food, drinks and other benefits, or as his wife told ILGA “was treated like royalty by the club”.
The regulator issued the record fine as its investigation into the case found out the RSL had wined and dined its customer, electing to ignore signs that the client had been suffering from gambling addiction. According to the club membership records, Mr Van Duinen made 170 visits to the RSL for the two years prior to his suicide on May 31, 2018, gambling more than AUD$3.7 million, an average of AUD$22,333 per visit, losing a total of AUD$230,000. Gary Van Duinen’s average playing time during the visits was nearly 6 hours per visit, with some visits lasting more than double the average time, clear signs of problem gambling behavior.
The regulator’s investigation found out Mr Van Duinen was targeted with perks available exclusively to high-roller players like harbour cruises and race day events, a conduct that encouraged the misuse and abuse of gambling and contravened both gaming machines and registered clubs’ legislation.
Responsible Gambling Marshall and Third Party Exclusion
Beside the mammoth financial penalty, ILGA elected to place extraordinary special conditions on the club’s license, introducing a round-the-clock marshall responsible for preventing gambling harm and engaging with customers which show signs of gambling addictions.
In addition, the NSW regulator ordered the club to set up a third-party exclusion scheme where families and friends of a problem gambler can request the gambler being banned from the venue, despite clubs being only required to operate on a self-exclusion basis.
Earlier in July, the Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority imposed a financial sanction on Star Casino, as the land-based gaming facility was found in breach of public health orders regarding the procedures for mitigating risk inside the property. ILGA found out the establishment allowed groups of patrons to walk around and mingle with others while having drinks, amplifying the risk of Covid-19 virus transmission.