AFL team Hawthorn — which in 2015 reaped $22.6 million from unlucky punters at two gambling venues — must pay $66,838 to charity for operating poker machines without a gambling licence, The Age reports.
For four days last year Vegas at Waverley Gardens, a licensed venue owned by Hawthorn, operated pokies despite its gambling licence having expired, Melbourne Magistrates Court heard on Thursday.
Punters who gambled at the venue over those four days lost $66,838, the court heard.
Representatives for Hawthorn appeared before the court on Thursday to acknowledge the wrong-doing, after which Magistrate Franz Holzer put the club on the court’s diversion program, which spares the Hawks a criminal record.
The program allows first-time offenders to avoid criminal records for lower-scale offences, provided they accept responsibility, rather than plead guilty.
Hawthorn self-reported to the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation that its gambling licence had expired for the Vegas hotel, the court heard.
The hotel’s gambling area was closed for some time, it was reported at the time.
Prosecutor Rob O’Neill, for the commission, last week asked the court that Hawthorn be made to advertise its wrongdoing so the affected punters could try to recoup the money they lost.
But Elizabeth Ruddle, for Hawthorn, said such an order would pose practical difficulties as there was no way of proving how much each punter lost.