Liquor & Gaming NSW has sent a clear message with its new ‘risk-based’ licensing scheme – be good, or potentially pay 4,000% more for a hotel licence.
The annual liquor licence fee scheme was reviewed last year by the Hon. Ian Callinan AC QC, who concluded it was an “appropriate measure to encourage venues to comply with the law and a valid way for licensees to contribute to the regulation of the industry”.
This has now manifested in the form of exponential increases to the base cost of a licence (appropriate to several forms of hotel and bar licence) plus designated “compliance risk loadings” and a serious disincentive on late trading.
Hotels licensed to trade beyond midnight automatically pay another $2,500, or another $5,000 if trading past 1:30am.
But the penalties really pile up if an operator – or manager – is convicted of one of the ‘Prescribed Offences’, as an additional ‘loading’ is then automatically applied for capacity, and yet another for venues in what are considered Sydney’s “high-risk” areas, the CBD and Kings Cross.
The blanket rate of increase in the licence fees could be considered extreme in the context of some of the specified offences, which have sometimes been seen to be applied under controversial circumstances.
A possible scenario is a mid-sized pub in Sydney CBD that receives a breach for ‘permitting intoxication’ when a patron that’s now had too much is spotted by a licensing inspector before any staff.
This scenario would see the cost of the pub’s licence go from $520 to $15,520 – an increase of 2,885 per cent.
The new compliance risk loadings will begin this year. Liquor & Gaming has provided an online calculator for operators to determine their own costing.
Prescribed offences that lead to compliance risk loadings
- Sale or supply of liquor contrary to licence
- Breach of licence condition
- Permitting intoxication or indecent, violent or quarrelsome conduct
- Selling or supplying liquor to an intoxicated person
- Permitting the sale, possession or use of a prohibited plant or drug section
- Failure to comply with a direction given by the Secretary
- Failure to comply with a short-term closure order
- Failure to comply with a long-term closure order
- Failure to comply with a notice issued by the Secretary section
- Selling or supplying liquor to a minor or allowing such sale or supply
- Licensees and managers liable for act of employees etc.