A casino in Alice Springs has been fined $18,000 for failing to exclude intoxicated people from its premises.
- The owners of Lasseters Casino pleaded guilty to three instances of failing to exclude drunk people from the licensed premises
- The casino was inundated with customers after the introduction of new laws restricting takeaway alcohol sales
- During its peak, 38 patrons were ejected from the casino each day as visitor numbers increased by a third each day
Proprietors Ford Dynasty, which owns the Lasseters Casino — the Central Australian town’s largest venue — pleaded guilty to three instances of failing to exclude drunks from a licenced premise last year, once on November 30 and twice on December 5.
In the Alice Springs Local Court on Monday, Judge Greg Borchers ordered the business to pay $5,000 per instance, plus a $1,000 victim’s levy for each charge.
No conviction was recorded.
Casino evicts 38 people per day
The court heard the incidents occurred when the casino experienced an influx of patrons after the introduction of police auxiliary officers patrolling takeaway liquor outlets in October.
Referencing an affidavit from Lasseters chief executive Craig Jervis, Judge Borchers said that following this period, the number of patrons visiting the casino went up 35 per cent each day.
Prosecutor Bethany Nolan said during this period, 38 people were evicted from the casino each day.
Judge Borchers said both Ford Dynasty and Northern Territory Police anticipated a spike in patronage in the wake of the new anti-alcohol measures.
The business increased its security and restricted the bar’s trading hours, and Judge Borchers said staff should have noticed the intoxicated people before police escorted them out.
Police auxiliaries patrol takeaway alcohol outlets in Alice Springs. (ABC News: Katrina Beavan)
Cleaner found woman passed out, didn’t wake her
The court heard that on the first instance in November, two police officers observed a man playing blackjack at about 11:00pm.
Judge Borchers said the man could not maintain his balance or take direction from the dealer and was escorted out by police.
One afternoon almost a month later, at around 3:00pm, two police officers found a woman sleeping in the sports screening room; they roused her and found she was intoxicated.
CCTV showed that a cleaner had found the woman asleep in the room about an hour earlier but did not wake her.
Later that day, in the third instance, at around 7:30pm, two officers saw a man staggering in the main bar area and determined he was drunk; he then became “quarrelsome” as he was escorted out.
Unintended consequences of drinking laws
Judge Borchers described the incidents before the court as the “unintended consequences” of the banned drinkers register and the introduction police auxiliary officers, both of which only operate at takeaway alcohol retailers.
“If you legally cannot purchase takeaway alcohol … the choice is obvious … drink where it’s sold, that is at hotels and other licenced premises,” he said.
Judge Borchers said that although the casino needed to increase security costs, its revenue would have also increased due to the spike in customers.
He said the case should send a message to the community at large that “the holders of liquor licences are being held accountable”.
But he also took into account the guilty plea and said Ford Dynasty had no prior convictions, employed a large number of people, and supported many community events.