As featured in the January edition of Bowler Magazine
As bowls clubs prepare for the new year, they may face investigation by the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation (OLGR) assessing compliance with Queensland’s liquor and gaming legislation. This article explains the rights and obligations of bowls clubs and staff when approached by the OLGR for a compliance investigation interview.
Power to Investigate
The OLGR, under the Liquor Act 1992 (Qld) and the Gaming Machine Act 1991 (Qld), has the authority to evaluate whether bowls clubs are adhering to Queensland’s liquor and gaming laws. One of the ways they can do this is by conducting interviews with club staff and representatives. To protect the club’s interests and be prepared for any potential investigation, it’s crucial that bowls clubs document and keep detailed statements from staff and individuals directly involved in any significant incident as soon as possible.
When the OLGR chooses to investigate an incident, the investigator may reach out to relevant individuals to schedule an interview at a mutually agreed upon time and location. The person being interviewed has the right to have a support person or legal representative present during the interview, and the OLGR must provide sufficient time for the individual to arrange this. The support person is not allowed to answer questions on behalf of the interviewee.
During an investigation, the OLGR inspectors may request the interviewee to provide their name, address, age, and proof of identification. The interviewee is required to answer all questions asked by the investigator, as long as the investigator reasonably believes the person has relevant information related to the enforcement of the Liquor and Gaming Acts. The only exception to this is if the person has a ‘reasonable excuse’, such as that answering the question could lead to self-incrimination. However, a corporate body cannot utilise that as a ‘reasonable excuse’. As of 1 July 2022, the maximum penalty for not answering a question during an OLGR investigation is $14,375 under the Liquor Act or $28,750 under the Gaming Act. Under the Penalties and Sentences Act, those maximum penalties can be multiplied by five for a corporate body such as a club.
It is advisable for bowls clubs to have a designated, knowledgeable individual or team available to handle interactions with the OLGR inspectors or police in case they visit the premises. This enables the bowls club to work with the authorities while safeguarding its own interests, however once an investigation begins, it is preferable to have only one point of contact for the club.
Should you be interviewed by the OLGR, the Mullins Hospitality and Commercial Litigation teams can help your bowls club with its obligations when it comes to your disclosure obligations and/or acting as your legal representative. Please contact me on 07 3224 0353 to discuss further.