The Greens are calling on Woolworths to phase out pokies in its venues following media reports that staff at Woolworths-owned hotels have been spying on gamblers in order to boost profits
One of the major allegations made by Federal Independent MP Andrew Wilkie following interviews with whistleblowers is that Woolworths hotels keep databases of customers who gamble, including their habits and behaviours.
Federal and state gambling authorities are now investigating the allegations. NSW Greens MLC and Gambling Harm Spokesperson is calling on Woolworths not to wait for the watchdog ruling but do the right thing and exit pokies now.
“The drive for profit in its hotel business creates an incentive for this type of predatory and unacceptable behaviour. Continuing to operate poker machines in this context is inconsistent with Woolworths position as a major Australian company in which many Australian’s savings are invested,” he said today.
“A secret database used to exploit vulnerable people and boost gambling profits is totally unacceptable.
“This is not why many Mum and Dad shareholders invested in Woolworths, a company that trades on a family-friendly image.
“This is predatory behaviour from a big company that own thousands of poker machines and the target is some of the most vulnerable people in our community. We know pokies can be a major factor in relationship and family breakdown, financial hardship and suicide.
“The investigation will tell us if the company has broken the law, but there’s no doubt this behaviour is immoral and breaks the community’s trust.
“This is no business for a company wanting to be a responsible part of the community and put food on our tables.
“I’m calling on Woolworths to do the right thing and get out of the pokies business,” Mr Field said.
A list of Woolworths-owned hotels (as of June 2017) compiled by the Greens is available here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1bnwVJV6oXLbKCFqVtVQUfXdDubj3k2vxpwDDnjs_4V0/edit?usp=sharing