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Thursday, July 25, 2024

New pokies rules ring in for pubs and clubs

NSW pubs and clubs with gaming machines are now required to comply with new measures intended to embed a culture of harm minimisation in venues to support people at risk of gambling harm.

Venues with more than 20 gaming machines now need to have a dedicated Responsible Gambling Officer (RGO) on duty while gaming machines are in operation.

Under the changes, which commenced yesterday, licensed venues are also banned from placing any signage or advertising relating to gaming machines either on, or visible from, an Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) or EFTPOS terminal.

Any sign that advertises or gives direction to ATMs or EFTPOS terminals will also not be allowed to be visible from a gaming machine or any part of a gaming area.

“We know that gaming machines represent the most serious risk of gambling harm, impacting individuals and their loved ones,” said NSW Minister for Gaming and Racing, David Harris.

“The NSW Government is committed to implementing gambling reform to reduce these harms, including this introduction of Responsible Gambling Officers in pubs and clubs, and changes to the placement and visibility of ATMs in venues.

“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.”

Venues will be given a month’s grace period to ensure they are compliant with the new ATM signage rules before enforcement activity commences in August.

The NSW Government has consulted industry and stakeholders on the new requirements.

Venues will be responsible for identifying and training suitable staff to fulfil the role of Responsible Gambling Officers, who will help identify and support patrons displaying concerning gambling behaviour, make referrals to gambling support services, and facilitate requests for self-exclusion.

The number of officers required to be on duty will be scaled depending on the number of gaming machine entitlements a venue has.

Venues will also be required to keep a Gambling Incident Register to record details of occurrences including where a patron displays behaviour that indicates they are at risk of, or experiencing gambling harm, and any requests for self-exclusion.

Further changes will be rolled out from 1 January 2025, when all ATMs must:

  • Be located at least five metres from the entry to a gaming room or area where gaming machines are located.
  • Not be visible from:
    • The entry to a gaming room, or area or room where gaming machines are located.
    • A gaming machine.

“Having cash dispensing facilities further away from gaming machines encourages a clean break in play for patrons who may be losing track of what they are spending,” the Minister said.

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

Liquor & Gaming NSW inspectors have already commenced visiting venues across the state to ensure they are aware of the new 1 July obligations, and will be providing further guidance to industry about the changes that apply from 1 January 2025.

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