Sunday, June 13, 2021

New laws proposed to help prevent gambling

The NSW Government is seeking community feedback on a raft of proposed new laws to tackle harm associated with gaming machine use.

Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello said the changes are aimed squarely at helping gamblers and people affected by their gambling.

“People experiencing gambling harm are some of the most vulnerable in the community and our existing laws are outdated and in need of an overhaul,” Mr Dominello said.

“Our current laws are limited to gamblers voluntarily banning themselves from the gaming areas of hotels and clubs, and from the casino.

“We know gambling impacts families and the wider community, which is why the proposed changes would for allow concerned family members to apply to a hotel or registered club to ban a gambler from entering the venue.

“The changes will also require venues to take all reasonable steps to stop an excluded person from entering prohibited areas and will introduce penalties for failure to comply.

“NSW is the only jurisdiction in Australia with gaming machines in pubs and clubs where there is no sanction for a venue that fails to stop an excluded person from gambling. The proposed changes are best practice and in line with laws that already exist in other states and in New Zealand.

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“We know venues do the right thing in supporting someone who comes to them for help. But unless someone asks for help, venues are under no obligation to provide support or intervene. We can do better than that.”

There has been an increase in gaming machine expenditure during the pandemic, with expenditure increasing more than $200 million between June and August this year, compared to the same period last year, representing a 12 per cent increase.

The Bill also proposes that clubs and hotels must always have someone on duty who has undertaken a new Advanced Responsible Conduct of Gambling training program and who can actively identify and assist gamblers who display problematic gambling behaviours.

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Other proposed changes in the Gaming Machines Amendment (Gambling Harm Minimisation) Bill 2020 include:

  • A new exclusion scheme in clubs and hotels, so family members can request that venues ban someone whose problem gambling behaviours are causing harm to themselves or others;
  • Making it easier for venues to issue and enforce exclusion orders for a minimum of six months, if satisfied it would be in that person’s interests;
  • Allowing a person to self-exclude through a simple Online Exclusion Portal;
  • Allowing self-excluded individuals and venues to agree to shorter exclusion periods following the initial six-month exclusion period;
  • Requiring venues to suspend an excluded person’s player account and membership of any player reward scheme;
  • Requiring forfeiture of winnings from an excluded person or a minor to the Responsible Gambling Fund; and
  • New whistleblower protections for club and hotel staff who report breaches of legislation to the regulator.
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During the implementation stage, the Responsible Gambling Fund will support venue staff to undertake Advanced Responsible Conduct of Gambling training. This will include providing staff with advice on how to be proactive when engaging with patrons who show signs of problematic gambling behaviour.

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