The Victorian and Northern Territory Governments have this week introduced new gaming regulations to increase oversight of Crown casino and prevent new gaming machines being installed respectively.
This news follows the surprising move by the Tasmanian Government in announcing cashless gaming cards that gaming machine players will have to register for, and which will have pre-set default spending limits.
Yesterday the Andrews Government in Victoria passed the Casino Legislation Amendment (Royal Commission Implementation and Other Matters) Bill 2022 through Parliament, which it said is “aimed at strengthening harm minimisation measures, combating financial crime, and boosting governance and oversight of Crown”.
To prevent money laundering through the casino, the legislation introduces mandatory identification checks before a person can participate in gambling activities or claim winnings of more than $1000. Cash usage will also be limited to $1000 per 24 hours.
Patrons of the casino will be able to set time and money limits on their gaming activities through a mandatory pre-commitment system for electronic gaming machines for Australian residents in the venue. The mandatory pre-commitment system will need to be in place for the casino’s pokies by the end of next year.
Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation Melissa Horne said: “We are holding Crown Melbourne to account and delivering on an additional 12 recommendations – targeting money laundering and harm minimisation – to implement every one of the Royal Commission’s recommendations.
“This legislation implements world-leading reforms to make sure the failures uncovered by the Royal Commission can never happen again.”
Meanwhile the Northern Territory Government has placed a moratorium on gaming machines in hotels and taverns across Alice Springs for nine months.
The move comes after residents of Alice petitioned the Government after applications were lodged for 60 new gaming machines for hotels and taverns in the town.
The moratorium means applications currently lodged for Uncles Tavern, Mercure Alice Springs Resort, Todd Tavern, and Gap View Hotel will not be considered until June 2023. The venues were bought earlier this year by Iris Capital. Australian Hotelier approached Iris Capital to comment on this, but the company declined to comment at this stage.
Minister for Racing, Gaming and Licensing Chansey Paech, said: “The Territory Labor Government knows that problem gambling creates a significant public health risk to communities across the NT, especially for our most vulnerable Territorians.
“People in Alice Springs have voiced their concerns loudly and clearly, and we are now taking the time to make the application process more robust and in line with community expectations.
“This move is part of our Government’s wider policy reform to minimise gambling-related harm because it is in the best interests of Territorians; and it is what Territorians want.”
The Government said it will consider further harm minimisation policies and practices during this moratorium.
The gaming crackdown has also been in the spotlight in New South Wales after a hotel in the state’s Riverina region was hit with fines and legal costs of almost $40,000 for operating gaming machines outside authorised hours on at least 40 days over a six-month period.
Golden Crown Pty Ltd, corporate licensee of the Leeton Hotel, Leeton, and its director Trent Middleton were each fined $14,000 following an investigation by Liquor & Gaming NSW.
Hospitality and Racing CEO Anthony Keon said these were serious breaches of the state’s gaming laws and the penalties send a clear message to other venue operators who don’t comply with NSW’s strict requirements for the operation of gaming machines.
“These restrictions are in place to reduce risks of gambling harm by limiting the amount of time patrons can spend playing gaming machines,” Keon said.
He added: “The Leeton Hotel showed a repeated disregard for the law along with the well-being of its patrons who were placed at greater risk of gambling harm.
“As this penalty shows, venues who fail to abide by gaming machine trading hours can expect to be caught and face the full force of the law.”
The hotel operates 14 gaming machines and is authorised to trade until 1am Monday through Saturday and 10pm on Sundays.
Liquor & Gaming NSW said it had reviewed the hotel’s gaming activity and found that between April and October 2021, its gaming machines had been operated outside these hours on at least 40 separate dates, mainly in the early hours of Saturday or Sunday mornings and after 10pm on Sunday nights.
When interviewed, Middleton said he believed there was a 45-minute grace period for gaming following cessation of trade.
Both Middleton and Golden Crown pleaded guilty to breaches of the Gaming Machines Act, and Middleton told the Court that he had donated the profit accrued through the unlawful operation of the machines to charity.
Each party was convicted and fined $14,000 with a further total of $10,800 in costs awarded.