Northland hotel owner stands by 'baby dumped for pokies' story

Drive 06/06/2018
Photo credit: Google Maps.

The owners of Rawene Masonic Hotel in the Far North have denied allegations made by Pub Charity that pokie machines were deactivated at the venue due to late payments.

Owner Glen Dick has stuck by his original claim made last week that the pokie machines in his hotel were switched off because a woman left her baby outside while she gambled.

Pub Charity claims the pokie machines in their hotel were deactivated prior to the incident where the woman was removed, but Mr Dick and co-owner Lara Turnbull "categorically deny" that is the case.

Boss Martin Cheer told RadioLIVE Drive on Tuesday that CCTV footage from the hotel did not support the owners’ claims.

Mr Cheer said that the pokies had already been shut down because some proceeds had not been handed over on time.

Former ACT Party MP and the owners’ lawyer David Garrett told Ryan Bridge and Lisa Owen the machines were not deactivated for at least a week after the incident.

“I’ve looked at the former gaming room and where the cameras were. There were no cameras outside so I don’t know how quite he knew that there was no baby sitting on the kerb.

“The instructions I have that Mr Dick heard a baby crying outside, went to look at one entrance of the hotel and found nothing, went to the other and found an infant in a car capsule on the kerb, went into the gaming room and there were two people playing – one was a young woman,” Mr Garrett.

“There is no way Mr Cheer can possibly know what was going on outside the pub, or indeed outside the gaming room which is separate from the pub.”

The owners also rejected a statement issued Tuesday by the gaming trust that hosted the gaming machines in the hotel, which alleged seven electronic gaming machines were de-activated as a result of "repeated instances of late banking of gaming machine proceeds due from the venue."

"Late banking of gaming machine proceeds by a venue is a serious matter and can result in a fine of $2500 for the venue manager, and for repeated incidents a suspension or cancellation of gaming license," the organisation said.

Mr Dick and Ms Turnbull claim the machines were deactivated at their request "perhaps more than a week later" - after they had discussed the potential negative effect of the machines on the community.

In a statement, Mr Garrett, said they "made the decision that the pokie machines were a blight on their community and, notwithstanding the loss of revenue - which would hurt their new business - their hotel and the Rawene community were better off without them."

Listen to the full interview with David Garrett above.

Drive with Ryan Bridge and Lisa Owen, 3pm - 6pm Weekdays and streaming live on 'rova' channel 9 - available on Android and iPhone.