Greens call on Woolworths to exit pokies at Westower Tavern

Media Release

2 March 2018

Greens call on Woolworths to exit Westower Tavern pokies

Greens Member for Ballina Tamara Smith has today called on Woolworths to phase out pokies at its Westower Tavern venue in West Ballina.

This follows allegations by whistleblowers that staff at Woolworths-owned hotels have been spying on gamblers in order to boost profits.

Federal Independent MP Andrew Wilkie says whistleblowers have revealed that Woolworths’ hotels keep databases of customers who gamble, including their habits and behaviours.

"The drive for profit in its hotel business creates an incentive for this type of predatory and unacceptable behaviour,” said Ms Smith.

“Continuing to operate poker machines in this context is inconsistent with Woolworths’ position as a major Australian company that many Mum and Dad investors have shares in.

"A secret database used to exploit vulnerable people and boost gambling profits is totally unacceptable. Woolworths is a company that trades on a family-friendly image but this behaviour targets the most vulnerable people in our community.

“We know pokies can be a major factor in relationship and family breakdown, financial hardship and suicide.

Federal and state gambling authorities are now investigating the allegations.

"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.

"The Greens are calling on Woolworths to do the right thing and get out of the pokies business.

I recently met with Reverend Tim Costello, patron of World Vision Australia to recognise the Beach Hotel Byron Bay as the first hotel in NSW to remove gaming machines because of the social harm gambling causes so many families; so it can be done," Ms Smith said.

Federal Greens Gambling Spokesperson, Senator Andrew Bartlett, will join his SA Greens colleague, Tammy Franks MLC, to hold a press conference today to announce the 'Putting an End to Pokies Plan', outlining state and commonwealth measures that will end Australia's addiction to poker machines.

Information from Liquor and Gaming obtained  by NSW Greens MLC and Gambling Harm Spokesperson Justin Field shows the Woolworths-owned Westower Tavern in Ballina West has 30 electronic gambling machines and ranks 368th in the State net profit ranking, earning an estimated annual profit of $1,812,832.  

NOTE: Estimated Annual Profit is drawn from the 2016/17 Budget Papers that show actual net profits and tax paid for every hotel in NSW in order of profitability. This has been listed alongside the June 2017 quarterly report ranking as a way of making a best estimate of likely profits associated with individual hotels.  


A list of Woolworths-owned hotels (as of June 2017) compiled by the Greens is available here: