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Woolworths pubs accused of recording customer gambling habits

Australian pub operator, ALH Group have been hit with startling new allegations, which accuses staff across its venues of recording gambling and drinking habits of its customers to maximize profits, according to reports.

The allegations is said to have come from whistleblowers - the claims which were shared this week in parliament by anti-pokies independent MP Andrew Wilkie.

According to the MP, staff recorded customers’ gambling and drinking habits, favorite sporting teams and the “ins and outs” of regular gamblers’ lives in order to keep punters gambling and drinking at venues longer.

Wilkie claims that staff were rewarded with gift vouchers for meeting betting targets, while gamblers were induced to stay with drink cards and other promotions.

“This practice undoubtedly increases revenue but it’s also immoral, possibly illegal, and directly fosters increased gaming addiction,” said Wilkie, quoted by local reporters.

“Today’s revelations demonstrate just how low the poker industry stoops to create addicts. This is disgraceful behaviour and it should be called out.”

The ALH Group, a subsidiary of Woolworths which operates the pub venues, told the Guardian Australia that it has notified the independent regulator in Queensland about the allegations, and has also extended the ongoing audit of its responsible gambling programs and operators with the Responsible Gambling Council of Canada to include these new allegations.

“There is a line which must be respected between legitimate customer service and loyalty initiatives that are part and parcel of every hospitality business and the requirements of the Responsible Service of Gaming and Responsible Service of Alcohol codes,” said the company in a statement.

“If there are instances where that line has been crossed ALH is committed to taking the necessary steps to rectify any breach and address any non-compliant behavior.”

In Australia, pubs, like local clubs, are permitted to house a number of slot machines per venue. The ALH Group operates around 330 venues across the country, and is estimated to own around 12,500 poker machines.

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