The Allan Labor Government has embarked on its first step in implementing its nation-leading reforms to protect Victorians from gambling harm.
Minister for Casino, Gaming and Liquor Regulation Melissa Horne introduced the Gambling Legislation Amendment Bill 2023 to Parliament, which will enforce mandatory closure periods for all gaming machine areas in venues except the casino between 4 am and 10 am every day.
This addresses evidence that some venues are staggering opening hours to encourage patrons to move between nearby venues to continue gambling once one closes.
Providing people with a break in play is an important gambling harm prevention measure, as it gives people a chance to stop and consider the decisions they are making and whether they are prepared to potentially lose more money. The mandatory closures will come into effect by mid-2024.
The Bill will also extend the Minister’s powers to ban harmful betting on activities that take place outside of Victoria such as sports played by minors, providing more control over betting that is not in the public interest.
In response to the alarming behaviour uncovered by the Royal Commission into the Casino Operator and Licence, the Government moved swiftly to implement the Commission’s 33 recommendations.
The Bill builds on this work by making it clearer and easier for the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission to deal with casino property if it decides to withhold granting a casino licence. It also ensures the mandatory pre-commitment and carded play systems will work across the casino, including on table games.
From December 2023, any person who plays a gaming machine at the casino will be required to track their play using the pre-commitment system, YourPlay. By December 2025, this must be implemented on table games like poker and baccarat, requiring new table game technology to be developed.
The Bill follows the Government’s commitment in July 2023 to introduce sweeping reforms to provide Victorians with the strongest gambling harm protections in the country.
The package of reforms includes mandatory pre-commitment limits and carded play for all electronic gaming machines, capped load up limits of $100 and a slowing of spin rates to reduce the pace of games. The Government will consult with industry as part of an implementation working group.
Melissa Horne, Minister for Casino, Gaming and Liquor Regulation, said: “Our previous reforms have delivered stronger oversight of the gambling industry in Victoria with a regulator unafraid to hold venues to account – now we’re doing more important work to prevent and reduce gambling-related harm.
“We’ve seen predatory behaviour from some venues, allowing people to keep gambling for hours, at any hour. Closing gaming areas between 4 am and 10 am will give people an important break to reassess and walk away.”