Thursday, 19 November 2009

Children at Woolworths Pokie Pubs

Two days ago I witnessed unaccompanied children in a Woolworths associated pokie club. Yesterday, I visited 10 Woolworths associated venues and observed 2 instances of children interacting with the gambling Woolworths offers in a clearly unacceptable way. Have a look at this heartbreaking picture from the Highpoint Hotel in the Highpoint shopping centre in Maribyrnong.This picture is of a little girl waiting for a man that I observed to be likely her father, to stop pokie gambling, come back out of the pokie room to re-join her and her mother. This room was set up for the Wednesday night Texas Hold 'Em tournament.

The next picture was taken at the Pascoe Vale Hotel.This young girl was walking around tables collecting KENO cards. The open passageway to the pokie room and the vision of the pokies is only a few steps behind her.

This is 3 venues out of 11 visited in a period of two days where there have been incidents of unacceptable interaction between children and gambling at Woolworths' pokie venues.

Based upon these events it seems clear despite statements of responsibility made by both CEO Michael Luscombe and Chairman James Strong, that Woolworths do not responsibly manage these facilities. As a result of these observations, my view is that Messrs. Luscombe and Strong are either misinforming shareholders deliberately or have been ill advised by lower management of their own practices.

In the Chairman's formal response to the 249P statement he stated:
"...we work hard to ensure that our venues operate to the highest standards, including the strict prohibition of minors from gambling areas"
Surely, this statement can not be maintained. In less than two days minors have been observed unaccompanied in a TAB, a poker room watching pokie gambling through glass wall and picking up KENO cards - all in Woolworths' associated venues.

Chairman Strong should not only withdraw this statement but also apologise to shareholders.

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