Staff in pubs owned by Woolworths are secretly recording and sharing detailed personal information – such as gambling habits or even favourite football teams – about high-turnover gamblers to encourage them to stay in the venues longer and increase their losses.
The data is being shared on a Google drive among all 400 pubs in Woolworths’ network across the country in a bid to increase the chain’s poker machine revenue, which accounts for 10 per cent of Woolworths’ annual revenue.
Screenshots of the system obtained by MP Andrew Wilkie and shared with Fairfax Media also reveal that the staff are rewarded with gift vouchers when betting targets are reached or broken, and shows notes taken by staff to record what actions they took to encourage gamblers to stay on site.
One staff member notes after a shift: “Started slow, picked up after 9, coffees, drink shouts and toasties trying to keep them in, a lot of promo tickets going out.”
In a document entitled “GAMING DAILY BRIEFING SHEET” staff at one pub are provided the names, or identifying traits of each of the regulars, one of whom is identified by her first name with the note “little asin lady”. There are also notes made recording the times some regulars enter.
A note in red at the top of the page says: “WE HAVE A MASSIVE WEEKLY TARGET – 1.36 TO BEAT. WE NEED TO BEAT, WE NEED TO BE OUT ON THE FLOOR REALLY PUSHING DRINKS – IT’S TAX TIME SO PEOPLE WILL HAVE MORE MONEY TO SPEND. DO HAND OUT DRINK CARDS, BE OUT THERE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE, DO WHATEVER YOU HAVE TO DO TO KEEP PEOPLE IN THE ROOM.”
The same documents note the behaviour of some players individually, naming one man as “hitting his usual $5” per bet. Later it says: “Great hour at 1pm! 18.7K!”
In an interview with Mr Wilkie’s office, a former Woolworths staff member says: “It used to be an unwritten thing, you’d talk to patrons in a genuine sense, but now those genuine interactions aren’t what they used to be. We’re actually writing it down so that we can get people to stay for as long as possible, to put as much money into the machines as possible.
– Nick O’Malley
Read more: Staff Rewarded for Spying on Pokie Players
Photo source – Flickr.com