The NSW Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority (ILGA) has ordered Dee Why RSL to pay a $200,000 fine and costs. It is the largest-ever penalty issued by the state’s gambling regulator. The huge penalty comes after the 2018 suicide of one of the club’s members. An investigation followed which deemed some of Dee Why gambling practices irresponsible.

ILGA received a complaint about the practices of Dee Why on May 27, 2019. This followed the tragic suicide of Gary Van Duinen in June 2018.

Van Duinen was a 45-year-old, married construction business owner with an 18-year-old son. His business specialised in commercial and residential building work on Sydney’s Northern beaches. Van Duinen’s family realised he suffered from a gambling problem, but it was too late to save him from himself.

His death made it into the national newspapers. The Sydney Morning Herald reported Van Duinen played pokies for 13 hours on the day of his death. Van Duinen visited Collaroy Services Club and Manly League Club before twice visiting Dee Why RSL. He left Dee Why around 02:00 and a taxi driver dropped him near Narrabeen Lakes at 05:00 on June 1. A search and rescue team discovered Van Duinen’s body six days later.

Dee Why Reveals Van Duinen’s Massive Spend

The NSW ILGA launched an investigation into the practices of Dee Why following a series of complaints. Dee Why fully cooperated and revealed some truly astonishing figures relating to the deceased man’s gambling habits.

Records show Van Duinen visited Dee Why and played pokies there on 170 occasions between June 1, 2016 and May 31, 2018. He played pokies for 930 hours for an average of 4 hours 45 minutes per visit. Some sessions, however, spanned 13 hours.

Van Duinen turned over just shy of $3.8 million during this two-year period or $22,333 per visit. Again, some extended visits saw him turn over up to $50,000.

His average loss weighed in at $1,070 per visit, although he lost more than $8,000 on some visits. Van Duinen lost $230,000 during his play at Dee Why, with $180,000 of those losses stemming from pokies.

The night before Van Duinen took his own life he played pokies at Dee Why between 20:00 and 01:40. he played 68 different machines and used his loyalty card to purchase 13 alcoholic drinks. He returned the following night, consumed 12 alcoholic drinks and gambled heavily. Van Duinen turned over $15,000 in only six hours and lost $4,700. That was the last night of Van Duinen’s life.

Van Duinen’s Wife Begged Dee Why Management To Help

The wife of the deceased man said she begged the Dee Why management team to help curb her husband’s gambling. She realised he had a problem shortly after winning two jackpots in quick succession.

Dee Why records show Van Duinen won more than $30,000 on June 19, 2016. He won more than $35,000 on June 28, 2016 thanks to another jackpot win. He lost $40,000 of that win during the following six months.

His wife said he seemed determined to win his losses back and that his losses saw him become a top VIP member. Dee Why stood accused of treating Van Duinen “like royalty” giving him preferential treatment whenever he visited the club. This included shopping for cigarettes for him and withdrawing cash from ATMs.

Van Duinen and his wife were invited to lavish cruises and dinners with fellow VIP customers.

ILGA Dishes Out Record Penalty

The ILGA investigation ultimately resulted in the regulator issuing $200,000 of fines and costs. Dee Why must pay $100,000 in penalties no later than August 14, 2020. $99,628.05 worth of costs also need paying.

Dee Why has since changed its loyalty programme so members do not earn points for gambling. ILGA warned Dee Why further sanctions are waiting should they overstep the mark in any respect.

The fine eclipses the $172,000 levied on Woolworths-owned ALH Group only a couple of weeks ago.

Don’t suffer in silence if you’re struggling with a gambling problem. There is help for NSW residents through Gambling Help. Visit their website at www.gamblinghelp.nsw.gov.au or via telephone at 1800-858-858.