Pokies restrictions voted down at Woolies meeting

A move to amend the Woolworths constitution to place limits on poker machine bets has failed.

An extraordinary general meeting was sparked by activist group GetUp!, which got about 200 members who own Woolworths shares to back it.

Woolworths shareholders were asked to vote on a motion that, amongst other things, would have require the company to put $1 spin restrictions on its poker machines.

However, only 2.53 per cent of shares were voted in favour of the resolution, with 97.74 per cent of shares voted against.

Woolies is Australia's single biggest pokies operator, with 6 per cent of the country's poker machines through its hotels joint venture, Australian Liquor and Hospitality.

ALH owned a total of 325 hotels as of the end of September this year.

In a letter to shareholders ahead of the meeting, Woolworths had warned that the measure would single out the company and put it at a disadvantage to its competitors.

Woolworths chairman James Strong told shareholders at the meeting that the company has gone above and beyond to promote responsible gambling at its venues.

Mr Strong says a plan to impose bet and time limits on poker machines at its hotels will do little to curb problem gambling.

"The board cannot see how singling out Woolworths - which has such a low share of the poker machine market - will alleviate problem gambling in Australia," he said.

About 80 people rallied outside the meeting to protest against the company's poker machines.

Karen Throssell's partner committed suicide after becoming addicted to gambling on poker machines.

She expected the motion to fail, but says that will not stop activists.

"I think the idea is to spread the word, is really tell people what Woolworths is about," she said.

"Once we start damaging their reputation I really think that should make a difference."

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