NSW INTRODUCES NEW LAWS TO CURB GAMBLING HARM

This month marked the commencement of new laws in New South Wales aimed at minimising gambling harm in venues with gaming machines.

Studies have indicated that gaming machines pose the greatest risk of gambling harm. In response, the NSW Government consulted with stakeholders and industry around the reforms.

From the first of this month, NSW clubs and pubs with over 20 gaming machines are now required to have a Responsible Gambling Officer (RGO) on duty whenever gaming machines are operational.

The exact number of RGOs required in any venue will be on a sliding scale dependent upon the number of entitlements the venue owns.

RGOs will assist in identifying and supporting patrons exhibiting problematic gambling behaviours, refer them to gambling support services, and facilitate requests for self-exclusion.

Venues will also need to ensure signage related to gaming machines cannot be visible from EFTPOS terminals or automatic teller machines (ATMs), and signage for EFTPOS and ATMs cannot be visible from gaming machine areas.

A Gambling Incident Register will also need to be held by the venue, designed to document occurrences such as where a patron exhibits behaviour indicating they are at risk of or experiencing gambling harm, as well as any requests for self-exclusion.

Further measures will come into effect from 1 January 2025, where all ATMs will be required to be placed at least five metres away from, and out of sight from, gambling machines or areas.

While this month’s laws won’t be enforced until 1 August, inspectors are already making the rounds of venues to ensure the new measures are understood.

David Harris, Minister for Gaming and Racing said the NSW Government is dedicated to implementing gambling reform initiatives.

“Responsible Gambling Officers will work to identify those patrons most at risk, or who are already experiencing gambling harm, check on their wellbeing and help refer them to support services if required,” he said.

The Minister believes that having a distance between the access to cash and the machines will help patrons to keep better track of their spend.

“We’ll be monitoring compliance in these areas closely to see if we need to look at strengthening harm minimisation laws even further,” he added.

In another initiative to reduce gambling harm, the Australian Communications and Media Authority announced that from last month, digital currency or credit cards are not allowed to be used to make online bets.

This includes the use of digital wallets and forms of digital currency such as cryptocurrency (for example, Bitcoin).

This aligns with the regulations currently set for physical gambling.

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