Minister for Racing Paul Toole has announced that the NSW Government will cap the number of EGMs in high-risk communities, including around the south-west suburb of Fairfield, as part of new gaming reforms to be introduced.
“Local community caps are an appropriate response to concerns that some areas have too many gaming machines. These areas will be capped at their current number, ensuring no additional machines can move into these areas,” Mr Toole said.
“A number of councils and community groups suggested caps and the NSW Government agrees this is the right thing to do in higher-risk areas. Local community caps are part of a package of reforms that represent the most significant changes to gambling regulation in NSW for a decade.
“The reforms include an overhaul of the Local Impact Assessment (LIA) scheme that regulates gaming machine movements. These changes will deliver more transparency, more community consultation and greater certainty for industry.”
Introduced into Parliament yesterday, the reforms include:
- More focused LIA assessments using ABS statistical zones, not council areas, with a stronger emphasis on vulnerable areas
- Broader community consultation during the LIA process for longer periods
- Directing LIA community contributions through the Responsible Gambling Fund with a mandate that the money be spent locally
- A leasing scheme for gaming machines held by small hotels and clubs, providing a new pathway for them to go machine-free
- A tenfold increase in fines for wagering operators offering illegal inducements
- Post-employment cooling-off period for senior Liquor & Gaming NSW staff
- Modernised regulation for casinos that is consistent between venues
Relief for country pubs
The Australian Hotels Association NSW (AHA NSW) is currently reviewing the reforms put to Parliament, but one initial takeaway is that the reforms will benefit country pubs who are struggling to stay afloat.
“Country pubs are the backbones of our regional communities, and many have been struggling with rising costs coupled with wider demographic changes,” states AHA NSW Director of Liquor and Policing John Green.
While noting that in the last two years alone almost 50 pubs in country New South Wales have closed, Green said that the leasing reform in particular will provide some relief for country pubs.
“Over recent years many country pubs have been forced to sell off their gaming assets when times got tough,” he said.
“Of course, they were only able to do this for as long as they had assets to sell. After the assets were sold, many were forced to close their doors.
“Under the new leasing arrangements, these hotels will no longer be forced to sell, but will be able to instead rent out their gaming entitlements, generating income for the pub.”
AHA NSW now plans to analyse the legislation in more detail.
Minister Toole believes the new legislation the will overhaul the way gaming is regulated in the state, and better identify at-risk communities.
“These reforms follow extensive consultation and represent a reset of the way gambling is regulated in NSW. They recognise concerns about gambling harm, while focusing regulation on where there is real risk.”