Most clubs and pubs with gaming will be mandated to have a ‘responsible gambling officer’ on duty during machines hours of operation, in the latest reforms by the state government.
The Minns Labor government in NSW has affirmed it is committed to evidence-based gambling reform, and has introduced a series of amendments to the Gaming Machines Regulation 2019 since being elected in March 2023.
The latest new rules will apply from 1 July 2024.
They dictate that the Responsible Gaming Officers (RGO) will:
- identify patrons at risk of harm or displaying what is deemed concerning gambling behaviour
- refer relevant patrons to gambling services, such as the GambleAware hotline
- facilitate requests for self-exclusion
All affected venues throughout the state will also be required to keep a Gaming Plan of Management, and a gambling incident register.
Delegated RGOs – as well as other staff with specified roles – will also need to complete Advanced Responsible Conduct of Gambling (ARCG) training.
In NSW there are 2,181 pubs and clubs allowed to operate EGMs, and 1,152 venues have more than 20 machines. Clubs operating more than 100 machines will be required to have multiple RGOs.
It’s anticipated the requirement of the RGO during all gaming room hours will represent a major regulatory cost on the venues.
“The NSW Government is committed to gambling reform, reducing gambling harm and stopping money laundering and criminal activity associated with poker machines,” says NSW Minister for Gaming and Racing David Harris.
The Minister acknowledges that there is “no single solution” in managing harms associated with gambling, explaining that is why the government is implementing a range of reforms.
This measure follows legislative changes to machine cash feed-in rates, reduction in the cap on licences in the state, removal of VIP Room signage, and the massively expanded cashless gaming trial now underway, increased to encompass more than 4,400 EGMs in eight hotels, 20 clubs and across 24 LGAs.
“It is great to have industry on board with our gambling reform agenda as well as harm minimisation organisations,” furthered Harris.
“Together we are making a real difference in tackling gambling related harm.”
Separately, ClubsNSW has announced it has upgraded its existing self-exclusion system to allow patrons to exclude themselves from venues right across the state.
The Self-Facilitated Multi-Venue Self-Exclusion (MVSE) provides an online form that can be completed on a mobile device, where people can select the venues from which they wish to self-exclude.
ClubsNSW CEO Rebecca Riant offers that it eliminates the need for a person trying to avoid gambling from having to go into the venue.
“Having to speak to staff at your local club about your gambling can be confronting, especially for those living in a small town, and it can be a deterrent to self-excluding.
ClubsNSW has operated its MVSE register for clubs and pubs across the state since 2012.
To apply, a person needs to verify their identity by supplying a recent high-resolution headshot, a scanned copy of their Australian Driver Licence, passport or ID, plus a clear photo of them holding a copy of their ID.
If found to have breached their own self-exclusion, once formally identified patrons will be escorted from the premises.
As with the existing self-exclusion system, all self-facilitated self-exclusions must be held for six months before a person can request to cancel it. Revocation applications are assessed by a responsible gambling counsellor, who considers the person’s gambling history and any attempted breaches.
The revised self-exclusion system comes just six months after the launch of the Association’s Club Gaming Code of Practice, outlining the practices, rules, responsibilities and standards for the state’s club industry, in the responsible conduct of gambling, Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Counter-Terrorism Financing (CTF).