More game rules introduced in Australia

The governments of Victoria and Northern Territory introduced new game rules this week to increase oversight of the Crown casino and prevent new slot machines from being installed.

This news follows the Tasmanian government’s surprising move to announce cashless playing cards that will require slot players to register and which will have pre-set default spending limits.

Yesterday, the Andrews administration in Victoria de Change in casino legislation (implementation Royal Commission and other matters) Bill 2022 through Parliament, which the Parliament says is “focused on strengthening measures to minimize harm, fight financial crime and promote governance and oversight of Crown”.

To prevent money laundering through the casino, the law introduces mandatory identification checks before a person can participate in gambling activities or claim winnings over $1000. The use of cash is also limited to $1000 per 24 hours.

The 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 slot machines for Australian residents in the venue. The mandatory pre-commitment system should be introduced for the casino’s slot machines by the end of next year.

Melissa Horne, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gambling and Liquor Regulation, said: “We are holding Crown Melbourne to account and are making a further 12 recommendations – aimed at money laundering and harm minimization – to implement all of the Royal Commission’s recommendations .

“This legislation implements leading-edge reforms to ensure that the failures discovered by the Royal Commission can never happen again.”

Meanwhile, the Northern Territory government has imposed a nine-month moratorium on slot machines in hotels and taverns in Alice Springs.

The move comes after residents of Alice petitioned the government after applications were made for 60 new slot machines for hotels and taverns in the city.

The moratorium means that applications currently submitted for Uncles Tavern, Mercure Alice Springs Resort, Todd Tavern and Gap View Hotel will not be considered until June 2023. The locations were purchased by Iris Capital earlier this year. 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 problematic gambling poses a significant public health risk to communities across the NT, especially to our most vulnerable Territorians.

“People in Alice Springs have voiced their concerns loud and clear 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 minimize gambling-related harm, as it is in the best interests of the Territories; and it is what Territorians want.”

The government said it will consider further damage minimization policies and practices during this moratorium.

The gaming crackdown was also in the spotlight in New South Wales after a hotel in the state’s Riverina region was hit with fines and legal costs of nearly $40,000 for operating slot machines outside of allowed hours on at least 40 days during a period of six months.

Golden Crown Pty Ltd, corporate licensee of the Leeton Hotel, Leeton, and its managing director Trent Middleton were each fined $14,000 following an investigation by Liquor & Gaming NSW.

Anthony Keon, CEO of Hospitality and Racing, said these were serious violations of state gambling laws and the sanctions send a clear signal to other operators of venues that fail to meet NSW’s strict requirements for the use of slot machines.

“These restrictions are in place to reduce the risks of gambling damage by limiting the amount of time customers can spend playing slot machines,” Keon said.

He added: “The Leeton Hotel showed a repeated disregard for the law, along with the well-being of its customers who were at greater risk of gambling harm.

“As this penalty shows, venues that do not adhere to slot machine trading hours can expect to be caught and given the full force of the law.”

The hotel operates 14 slot machines and is allowed to trade until 01:00 Monday to Saturday and until 22:00 on Sundays.

Liquor & Gaming NSW said it had reviewed the hotel’s gambling operations and found that between April and October 2021, the slot machines had been used outside of these hours on at least 40 different dates, primarily in the early hours of Saturday or Sunday mornings and after 10pm. on Sunday evening.

When interviewed, Middleton said he believed there was a 45-minute grace period for gaming after trading ceased.

Both Middleton and Golden Crown pleaded guilty to Gaming Machines Act violations, and Middleton told the court that he had donated the profits derived from the illegal exploitation of the machines to charity.

Each party was convicted and fined $14,000 with an additional $10,800 in total costs awarded.

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