Marlow Hotel Group Under ILGA Investigation

Sydney-based Marlow Hotel Group finds itself in hot water with the ILGA after allegations it rewards gamblers with up to $1,050 per week.

Just as you thought it is only Crown Resorts and Star Entertainment Group that hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons, along comes another investigation. The New South Wales Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority (ILGA) has launched an investigation into Marlow Hotel Group following reports it is giving away free booze and money to gamblers.

Marlow Hotel Group owns several properties in Australia, and each has several pokies that are popular with patrons. Pubs and clubs housing poker machines are nothing new, but Marlow Hotel Group has fallen foul of rules and regulations. NSW legislation permits prizes and promotions worth less than $1,000 for pokie players. However, the Daily Mail reports some Marlow Hotel Group properties offered a secretive reward card paying gamblers $1,050 or more.

Two avid pokie players and a former employees allege some punters received special treatment at Marlow Hotel Group pubs. Frequent gamblers received secretive reward cards with a $150 daily limit. They used the special cards for free food, cigarettes, booze, and cash withdrawals. Tot up the $150 daily limit and you reach a $1,050 weekly figure, which breaches NSW rules. The fact card users often received cash also breaks NSW regulations.

The trio claim the $150 daily allowance comprised of three $50 amounts. Those with the special cards could use them at The Bank Tavern in Kogarah, Intersection Hotel in Ramsgate, and the Royal Hotel in Carlton.

Marlow Hotel Group Boss Claims Company Abandoned Scheme in 2019

Jason Marlow, the man overseeing Marlow Hotel Group operations, created the cards. He identified high-value gamblers who frequented the chain and who spent more time than usual using the venue’s gambling machines.

Fifteen to 20 players are each venue were eligible for the scheme. The Marlow Hotel Group former employee claims some patrons lost $10,000 in a single session. The same employee claims one female customer owned a $1 million house in Kogarah but sold it and was broke three years later because she gambled everything away at The Bank Tavern.

Another former patron lost $600,000 between 2015 and 2020. They admitted to benefiting from the loyalty scheme but the money lost far outweighed the benefits. In addition, this patron alleges they requested self-exclusion but the pub still allowed him entry.

Jason Marlow did not deny his company awarded benefits to frequent gamblers. However, according to him, the company ended the scheme in 2019. These recent reports suggest Mr Marlow may be lenient with the truth.

This Is Not The First Time ILGA Has Looked Into The Company

The ILGA investigated another of the Marlow Hotel Group properties in February. A disgruntled former employee of the Rose and Crown snitched to the ILGA regarding gambling violations.

An ILGA investigation revealed several violations at the property. These included giving away $145,000 in freebies. The ILGA fined the property’s licensee $107,358. Furthermore, it banned Paul Lamkin, the property’s manager, from working as an approved manager for one year. Lamkin received a $10,000 fine in addition to his 12-month ban. Lamkin, Jason Marlow, and Damien Kelly found themselves on the hook for the investigation’s costs.

ILGA Confirms Looking Into the Group

In regards to the current allegations, the ILGA confirmed it is looking into the matter.

“The ILGA is reviewing this matter to determine if the rewards scheme breaches the Gaming Machines Act. In some circumstances, venues can operate a rewards scheme whereby gaming machine players can gain points to be redeemed for promotional prizes valued at less than $1,000. The prizes must not be cash or be able to be exchanged or redeemed for cash.”

Marlow Hotel Group is a family owned Sydney based hotel group established in 2010. It owns and operates 12 properties in NSW and has almost 200 staff. It is likely, that if found guilty of these breaches, the ILGA will come down on Marlow Hotel Group like a ton of bricks.