Monday, 4 January 2010

Woolworths Mislead Commission

It seems not enough for Woolworths to mislead their shareholders at the Annual General Meeting with bad information about their pokie practices. In their second submission, Woolworths' pokie associate ALH and ALH's CEO Bruce Mathieson now are trying to mislead the Productivity Commission. From these actions it seems like putting out misleading information is becoming their practice.

Click here to have a look at the ALH 2nd submission to the Productivity Commission.

Page 4 of at submission it states as follows:
"ATMs are already away from and out of sight of gaming rooms as part of current guidelines.”
At the annual general meeting of Woolworths Limited, held on 26 November 2009, Chairman James Strong made the following statement;
“In terms of the gaming room there are very strict rules about keeping ATMs out of sight.”
Both statements are untrue.

At the Woolworths’ AGM I addressed both shareholders and the board of directors and stated that Mr Strong’s statement was untrue. Yet Woolworths 75% controlled pokie associate persists to make these untrue statements of fact by the ALH submission to the Productivity Commission signed by Mr Mathieson.

While it has not been possible to review each associated Woolworths venue since the closure of the Commission’s public sessions in mid-December, I did instigate an inspection of the Woolworths’ associated Rose & Crown pokie pub located in Elizabeth, South Australia. This inspection was carried out on 30 December 2009. Here's a photo of what we saw.
At this venue, the ATM is located in the same room as the pokies, divided only by a glass partition. The ATM is visible to gamblers. Please note the lighted sign over the ATM attracts further attention to its location. Also note the large poker gambling poster next to the ATM.

If you click on this photo and have a close look, the child play area of green yellow and red is visible. Exterior advertising at this venue, located near a shopping mall, promotes the play area. While children may not be allowed in the pokie area itself, my opinion, from my own inspection, is that there is exposure to pokie gambling due to the open nature of the entrance to the pokie area at this venue. This practice contravenes the National Principles.

Click here to read the web page about the Rose & Crown

The next photograph was taken from the ATM looking back into the pokie area. Even though its blurry, it reinforces how visible the ATM really is.
In the interests of their own shareholders, Woolworths persistence with this claimed practice with respect to the visibility of their ATM machines must stop. Not only does it affect their credibility before the Productivity Commission, it reflects poorly on their claim to be "The Fresh Food People" and thereby the whole Woolworths' brand.

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