VGCCC Hits Endeavour Group With 62 Gaming Charges

Endeavour Group finds itself on the hook for $1.35 million after failing to install the YourPlay software on some of its new pokies.

The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) continues its crusade of cleaning up the Australian gambling scene. VGCCC recently slammed Crown Resorts with a $120 million fine. It now has Endeavour Group firmly in its sites. The Australian Leisure and Hospitality Group, which operates 77 pubs and clubs for Endeavour Group, is on the hook for $1.35 million in penalties.

Endeavour group does not run any real money casinos but has numerous pubs and clubs housing real money pokies. The VGCCC found 220 of the company’s machines operated in Victoria for up to five weeks without enabling the “YourPlay” functionality. Gambling laws in Victoria dictate all electronic gaming machines must have YourPlay installed. It is optional for players, but the feature is a prerequisite for running pokies in venues.

YourPlay is a feature of real money slots and other electronic gaming machines. It allows patrons to set time limits or loss limits on the devices they play. In addition to making it possible to monitor their activity across all Victorian venues. The VGCCC discovered breaches and non-compliance across 80% of Endeavour Group venues.

“Anyone who holds a gambling licence in Victoria is on notice that they must, at a minimum, comply with their legal obligations to protect patrons from gambling harm. Having YourPlay installed and available on electronic gaming machines is a mandatory requirement to support safer gambling,” VGCCC CEO Annette Kimmitt said.

Endeavour Group Apologies Its Failings

Endeavour Group is a Goliath of a company. Its 344 hots host almost 12,500 pokies, making it the largest pokies owner in Australia. In addition, the group has 258 Dan Murphy’s and 1,417 BWS outlets as part of its liquor retailing operation. You may recall Endeavour Group demerged from Woolworths in 2021. However, it retains a near 15% stake in the supermarket chain.

The leisure giant revealed it learned of the VGCCC investigation in December 2021 and conducted its own review of its Victorian pokies. Endeavour Group discovered 220 of its 4,690 machines in Victoria did not have YourPlay installed. It immediately turned them off, but the damage had already occurred. The group blamed COVID-19 for the failures. However, the disruptive pandemic will not prevent the ASX-listed company from receiving a maximum fine of $1.35 million.

“The investigation concluded this was an isolated but regrettable case of process and communication failure in our internal supply chain. The Board was immediately made aware of the VGCCC investigation by management and has been regularly updated on the investigation and VGCCC process.”

“We are acutely aware of the seriousness of this matter, and we are committed to doing all we can to ensure it does not happen again. At Endeavour Group, we hold ourselves to the highest standard of responsibility. We regret this has occurred, and we will continue to work with the VGCCC.”

New Machines Did Not Come With YourPlay Installed

Endeavour Group’s statement mentioned a breakdown in internal processes and communication. What was the result? The company revealed the breaches related to 220 of its 4,690 pokies in Victoria. All 220 were part of a new machine and cabinet rollout that the COVID-19 pandemic delayed. However, despite the delay, someone should have remembered to install or ask the developer to install the YourPlay software. Therefore, a costly mistake that could cost the group $1.35 million. The company discovers the extent of the fine on January 23, 2023, at the Melbourne Magistrate’s Court.

Bizarrely, the upcoming fine has had little bearing on the Endeavour Group’s share price. Shares traded at $7.144 per share when the ASX opened before dipping to $7.120 when the news broke. However, at close of trading, they increased to $7.160. Why? Because $1.35 million is a drop in the ocean for the group, the serious breaches are not on par with the recent goings on at Crown Resorts or Star Entertainment.