Gambling Laws in Victoria About To Get Tough
Victoria is set to introduce a raft of new gaming reforms to help reduce gambling harm caused by electronic gaming machines, known as EGMs. The changes, announced by Premier Dan Andrews and Gaming Minister Melissa Horne, will include smaller spending limits and slower spin speeds.
In this article, we’ll explore the current gambling laws in Victoria and the impact of gambling harm in the state. We’ll also examine what the regulations mean and when the changes will be introduced.
Current Gambling Laws
Victoria is set to introduce the toughest gambling and anti-money laundering measures for gaming machines nationwide.
According to The Age, the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission shows pokie players in pubs, clubs and hotels collectively lost $2.8 billion during the first 11 months of the last financial year. A figure that’s up from just under $2 billion from the previous year.
Previous changes introduced by the state government include mandatory pre-commitment rules for almost 3,000 poker machines at Crown Casino. But until now, there’s been little talk about rolling out reforms across the state’s other gaming machine areas.
Gambling Harm in Victoria
Premier Daniel Andrews said that he hoped the new gambling reforms would help Victorians, especially the 330,000 people who experience gambling harm every year. He stressed that gaming venues, in particular pokie machines, were the cause of terrible harm in the community.
Alliance for Gambling Reform spokesperson Tim Costello said that many people had long waited for this level of change from the Victorian government.
He believes when the reforms are enforced, they’ll go a long way to minimising problem gambling.
New Gambling Regulation Measures
Some of the proposed changes announced by the government include:
Under the new reforms, all pokies and other EGMs will require mandatory pre-commitment limits and mandatory carded play. Pre-commitment refers to restricting a gaming machine’s expenditure to stop players from spending more money than they originally intended. All players will use a card to sign in and set loss limits.
Changes to load-up limits
There will also be changes to load-up limits, which refers to how much a player can put into a pokie machine at any one time. These limits will reduce to $100, a significant decrease from the current limit of $1,000.
Reducing open times
All venue operators with electronic gaming machine areas will face mandatory closure periods for gaming operations of six hours a day, except Crown Casino. Venues will need to close between the hours of 4 am and 10 am, making it more difficult for people with gambling addictions to access pokies 24/7.
The introduction of set opening times comes following community concern that many venues have established staggered opening hours, coordinating to allow players to move between venues to gamble.
Slowing spin rates
All new poker machines will have their spin rates slowed down under the new measures. Pokies will need to spin at a rate of three seconds a game (a slowdown from the current 2.1 seconds each game). The aim is to slow the pace to help minimise financial losses.
What Sweeping Gambling Reforms Mean for Other States
Other states are also cracking down on gambling harm. NSW has vowed to reduce the number of pokies and has banned political donations from clubs with gaming equipment. They’re also trialling cashless gaming on pokies. And the government has announced they’ll ban gambling-related signage from outside clubs and pubs.
Australians can also soon ban themselves from online gambling companies with the introduction of BetStop.
Gambling Regulation Act
The current Victorian gambling laws fall under the Gambling Regulation Act. Some of the main objectives include fostering responsible gambling and minimising the harm caused by problem gambling. But some people say the Gambling Regulation Act needs to go further.
Leader of the Greens in Victoria, Tim Read, said while the new reforms would provide some relief they still don’t go far enough.
He’s calling for $1 bet limits and for venues to close for longer.
When Will The Changes Be Introduced?
While dates haven’t been announced, it’s expected some changes, such as load-up limits, will be in place by the end of the year. The rest of the reforms are expected to be rolled out by next year.
The Premier has hinted it may take time and indicated there will be consultation with the industry. But Monash University gambling expert Charles Livingstone warned consulting with the gambling industry could cause delays.
- Nine News “Victoria introduces strongest gambling harm preventions and anti-money laundering measures in Australia’”, https://www.9news.com.au/national/victoria-politics-strict-new-gaming-restrictions-to-limit-harm
- The Guardian “Victoria to crack down on pokies with load-up limits, mandatory closures and slower spin rates”, https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/jul/16/victoria-sweeping-reforms-gambling-poker-machines
- The Age “Gamblers forced to sign in and limit losses under Victoria’s strict new pokies rules”, https://www.theage.com.au/politics/victoria/gamblers-limited-to-100-per-play-and-early-morning-closures-slated-in-toughest-pokies-reforms
- The Guardian “Head of NSW cashless gambling panel wants trial extended to thousands more pokie machines”, https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/jul/13/head-of-nsw-cashless-gambling-panel-wants-trial-extended-to-thousands-more-pokie-machines
- Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission “Gambling legislation and regulations”, https://www.vgccc.vic.gov.au/gambling/gaming-venue-operator/understand-your-gaming-licence/gambling-legislation-and-regulations
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