“What a great educational trip to the States,” he wrote.
“It was an incredible networking opportunity to meet with some of the best in our industry. Learned a lot, ate a lot and drank a lot [sic] much.”
One of his friends wrote, “Still a junket mate.” Sheehan replied, “Education and networking mate [sly smile emoji].”
Also taking part in the tour was Nick Brabham, managing director of the Burpengary Community Club north of Brisbane, which was built two years ago amid protests over the 150 poker machines he would introduce to the area. Queensland recently overtook Victoria as the second largest pokie state behind NSW.
Brabham, the club’s first chief executive officer, posted a photo of a Pepsi and a Bud Light to his Facebook account. “Great morning at the G2E show,” he wrote. “I learned very quickly to order everything small….. Except for my beer. That was my little soft drink for lunch. Now off to educate myself in a few bars!”
Hosted by the American Gaming Association, G2E is a global gaming conference held in October showcasing the latest in gaming technology while also offering networking opportunities and presentations from industry luminaries.
Manufacturer-sponsored tours are well known to club managers. Former Parramatta Leagues club chief executive Bevan Paul said he had turned down such offers, asking for a discount instead. Other club managers attended at their own expense.
“Those who do it at the expense of a slot machine manufacturer can give the appearance of an obligation,” Paul said.
But updating the inventory is a necessary part of the job, he said. (Most of the new machines are replacements as venues will need new licenses if they want to increase the total.)
“Clubs need to buy the latest equipment that is coming out to stay competitive. If you don’t buy them, you’ll fall behind and lose revenue.”
A current club manager, speaking on condition of anonymity, said many clubs had turned off every other machine to aid in social distancing during the pandemic and found revenue had not changed, suggesting they ” overworked”.
“Having more machines is not necessarily the answer, it’s better to have the best machines,” said the club manager.
But the prospect of a free trip created a conflict of interest in the procurement process, the manager said. “The timing and type of aircraft purchased will in many cases be determined by the travel options that come with the purchase.”
Slot machine manufacturers IGT and Light and Wonder also offer club managers conference tours of Las Vegas if they purchase a required number of machines. Other perks include tickets to racing events such as the Melbourne Cup and Darwin Cup. Aristocrat is currently offering “study trips” to the home state in Adelaide, including two nights at the Hilton for club managers who purchase three poker machines.
A spokeswoman for Aristocrat said the company’s gaming business offers legal, regulated products in highly competitive markets.
“We do not back down from the fact that we work hard to attract customers and win and retain business, in accordance with applicable laws and regulations and our own internal policies,” she said in a written statement.
“Specifically in NSW and in relation to sponsored educational travel, Aristocrat complies with the Registered Clubs Act. We also note that clubs have regulatory disclosure requirements to their members regarding foreign travel by their directors and managers.
“Aristocrat requests that all club participants in sponsored educational trips certify in writing that they understand their obligations under applicable gambling laws and other probity requirements.”
Directors and employees of registered clubs are required by law to disclose all foreign travel made in their capacity as club representatives. There is no indication that the club managers named in this story did not.
David Marsh said: “St Johns Park Bowling Club Group Ltd participate in educational tours under commercial arrangements with key industry suppliers. St. Johns Park Bowling Club Group fully complies with all relevant laws in relation to these tours, including full disclosure to members of St. Johns Park Bowling Club Group.”
Brabham and Sheehan did not respond to questions.
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https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/the-junket-jackpot-club-bosses-score-vegas-trips-from-pokie-makers-20230308-p5cqbh.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_national_nsw Club bosses score Vegas trips from slot machine manufacturers