The New South Wales Government has unveiled its latest initiative to reduce gambling harm in the state, with the introduction of Responsible Gambling Officers (RGO) in venues with more than 20 gaming machine entitlements, from 1 July 2024.
The RGOs will be required to be on duty while poker machines are in operation and will help identify anyone at risk of harm or displaying concerning gambling behaviour. The RGOs will refer any patron they have concerns about to gambling support information and services and facilitate requests for self-exclusion.
Minister for Gaming and Racing, David Harris said: “The NSW Government is committed to gambling reform, reducing gambling harm and stopping money laundering and criminal activity associated with poker machines.
“Harmful gambling not only impacts individuals, but also their loved ones and the broader community.
“We know there is no single solution to address harm from gambling, which is why we are implementing a range of gambling reforms.
“The introduction of Responsible Gambling Officers is the next important step in supporting people who may be experiencing gambling harm.
“They will be across pubs and clubs where gambling is happening, and be alert to patrons at risk of harm or displaying concerning gambling behaviour and link them in to the support they need, such as the GambleAware hotline.
A spokesperson for AHA NSW told The Shout that the association has been working with the State Government on its gambling reforms.
“This announcement is part of the January 2023 Minns Government pre election policy,” the spokesperson said.
“The AHA NSW participated in Friday’s media conference announcing the specific detail of this policy with Minister Harris.
“The AHA NSW is now working with members to ensure RGOs are appointed and advanced training is undertaken prior to the June 30 Deadline.”
The new rules will be implemented in stages to allow NSW venues, staff, management, and training providers time to adjust. RGOs and other people with specified roles will also need to complete Advanced Responsible Conduct of Gambling (ARCG) training under the proposed changes.
As part of the new requirements clubs with more than 100 gaming machine entitlements will be required to have additional Responsible Gambling Officers, to ensure enough sufficiently trained staff are available to support patrons and to ensure they have a reasonable workload across larger gaming floors.
Clubs NSW CEO Rebecca Riant said: “We’re absolutely committed to working with the government to ensure that where there are opportunities to minimise harm, in relation to gambling, that we are working proactively to do so.”
Minister Harris added: “It is great to have industry on board with our gambling reform agenda as well as harm minimisation organisations. Together we are making a real difference in tackling gambling related harm.
“The NSW Labor Government is committed to evidence-based gambling reform and has delivered more in 10 months than the previous government managed in 12 years.”
The GambleAware phoneline 1800 858 858 is open 24 hours a day for anyone needing support. It is free and confidential. Visit gambleaware.nsw.gov.au for more information.