Wesfarmers close to calling time on pokies amid Woolies’ pub scandal

 In Australia, Coles, Woolworths

Wesfarmers is considering ownership options for its 88-strong pub business after it was approached by several parties, according to its new chief executive Rob Scott.
The retail behemoth doesn’t like the ethical problems that the pubs’ poker machines create and has called itself a ‘reluctant’ owner for years. But its previous attempts to extricate itself have been hamstrung by regulatory issues in Queensland, where most of its hotels are located.
It is not clear whether Wesfarmers has been able to structure a deal that would let it retain some kind of interest in the bottle shops attached to the pubs.
Its considerations come as rival Woolworths, which has enjoyed a very profitable association with pubs and not voiced any ethical concerns, has come under a harsh spotlight.
Revelations from Federal MP Andrew Wilkie this week that staff of Woolies-owned pubs used internal customer databases as a means to encourage them to gamble more – handing workers vouchers when customers hit betting targets – will place more pressure on the retailers’ ethics and governance in regards to their hotels businesses.  Sydney Morning Herald – Read more…

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