NSW Government Pokies Reforms Aim To Support the Community
The New South Wales government has introduced a series of reforms to address the impact of pokie addiction and money laundering. These reforms aim to create a safer gambling environment by tackling issues associated with poker machines in the state.
Since September 1, all pubs, clubs, and venues with gambling facilities in NSW have been required to remove any signs advertising gambling from their exterior walls. Banned words include ‘VIP Room,' ‘Golden Lounge,' 'Player’s Lounge,’ and pictures of dragons, coins, and lightning motifs.
Despite bans, venues are already finding loopholes, with The Royal Sheaf Hotel in Burwood displaying a sign with the words “Phòng VIP” (“VIP Room” in Vietnamese), according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
Nonetheless, venues failing to comply with the sign removal face hefty fines, starting at $11,000 per offence. Exceptions may be granted for venues unable to remove signage due to circumstances beyond their control, with an additional three-month compliance period.
The legislation extends existing laws prohibiting poker machines from being visible from the street. Changes aim to eliminate the promotion of pokies and curb the negative impact of gambling addiction across the state.
The NSW government’s commitment to minimising gambling-related harm includes a range of initiatives, spanning legislation, regulation, data management, certification, education, and training. Focusing on the long-term sustainability of clubs and pubs within NSW communities underpins these efforts.
In addition to the ban on gambling signage, other reforms include:
Capping the number of gaming machines in circulation.
Implementing cashless gaming with mandatory bank-account-linked cards.
Banning political donations from gambling clubs.
Establishing a buyback scheme for poker machines.
Australia houses over 20% of the world’s gaming machines, with NSW alone boasting over 100,000 pokies. NSW gamblers lost $4.6 billion on pokies last year, while gaming operators and the government profited substantially through taxes. Critics argue reforms might infringe on personal freedom and could potentially drive gambling underground. However, with concerns over money laundering and gambling addiction, the reforms underscore the need for intervention in what is seen as a public health crisis.
“Of course, change isn’t easy,” said former NSW premier Dominic Perrottet when the reforms were announced, “Taking action to stamp out crime and help our most vulnerable community members is a complex task. It has consequences for us all, especially the pubs and clubs that are the lifeblood of so many communities across NSW.”
The NSW government has also announced initiatives, including no-interest loans and grants to support communities and venues transitioning to cashless technologies and pursuing new revenue streams without compromising their operations. A government task force will also closely monitor the rollout of reforms focusing on industry viability and job maintenance.
“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to do the right thing and create a better NSW, and we must not let the challenges hold us back,” Perrottet said in his announcement.
You can visit the NSW government website for more detailed information on the legislation and reforms. If you or someone you know in NSW is struggling with gambling-related issues and needs assistance, GambleAware is available to help. They can be reached at 1800 858 858, and further information is available on their website, gambleaware.nsw.gov.au.