Poker machine row brews at Ballina pub
By ALEX EASTON
Police intervene to stop security guards evicting hotel licensees
A $300,000 SPAT over poker machines is believed to be behind dramatic scenes at the Ballina Hotel this week, when security guards tried to evict the pub's licensees.
Security guards from Nighthawk Security at Byron Bay were sent to the Ballina Hotel by pub owner Tom Mooney on Thursday afternoon.
While there were about 40 patrons in the main bar, the guards attempted to evict licensees Mick and Greg Alchin over alleged breaches of their lease agreement.
Richmond Local Area Command Licensing Sergeant Glenn Moriarty yesterday confirmed police were called to the pub about 4pm on Thursday, when the guards arrived with written instructions from Mr Mooney's solicitor to take possession of the business.
Sgt Moriarty said police at the scene told the guards they would need to get a court order to seize the business and that all parties needed to contact their lawyers before deciding on their next step.
The Weekend Star understands the eviction follows a long-running dispute between the Alchin brothers and Mr Mooney over the ownership of the pub's poker machine entitlements, valued at about $100,000 each.
The Alchins' plan to sell three of their poker machine entitlements to a pub at Albury on the NSW/Victorian border, potentially netting them about $300,000, has intensified that dispute.
However, Mr Mooney ? who runs the Hotel Great Northern, the Railway Friendly Bar and Byron Bay Brewing, and also owns the Bangalow Hotel and the Australian Tavern at Murwillumbah ? believes he owns the poker machines, along with the building and its contents, and that the Al- chins have no right to sell the machines.
It is believed the Alchin brothers have already started the process of trying to sell the gaming machine entitlements through the Department of Gaming and Racing, but the process has been stalled while the ownership of the entitlements is sorted out in court.
The Alchins and Nighthawk Security yesterday declined to comment on the record and Mr Mooney did not return calls.
Sgt Moriarty said the events of Thursday were done in reference only to the alleged lease agreement breach with no mention of the poker machines.
No information was available on how the Alchin brothers were alleged to have breached their lease agreement.
The Weekend Star understands all parties spent yesterday getting further legal advice.