Liquor & Gaming NSW, the governmental authority monitoring the liquor, gaming, wagering, and licensed clubs in the state, says that it pays increased attention to signage outside NSW pubs and clubs. The regulator’s activity is aimed to detect any breach of local gaming laws and represents the preparation activity for regulatory changes announced for implementation after the forthcoming elections.

Gambling reforms announced:

The state elections are set for this month and both major political parties promise to implement significant gambling reforms, in particular to the rapid increase in the number of poker machines in local clubs and pubs. The current Liberal government announced that, if elected, it would insist on the transition to cashless gaming for all of the 87,000 poker machines operative in the state. But both parties consider that the venue signage located outside licensed venues to promote gaming facilities shall be banned.

Banning terms associated with gambling:

Current NSW gaming law already prohibits signs that use “a term or expression frequently associated with gambling,” but many sites bypass this law by using signs that state “VIP Lounge” or other terms commonly associated with gaming rooms. Jane Lin, Executive Director of Regulatory Operations and Enforcement, Liquor & Gaming NSW, said that a recent inspection of NSW venues conducted by the regulator’s enforcement team found that 80% of these sites had “some sort of signage that might indicate the presence of gaming machines inside.”

Case-by-case compliance check:

IAG reports that it did not mean that all these venues were non-compliant because of the wording while Lin noted that Liquor & Gaming NSW was waving a “flag to say to the industry that we are starting to look more closely at this. We will take it on a case-by-case basis, like we always do, as to whether we think the signage is compliant.”

Awaiting elections for regulatory changes:

Commenting specifically on the term “VIP Lounge”, she said: “The wording of the legislation is such that we need to take a look at what can be done in terms of taking enforcement action. It may not be necessary [for Liquor & Gaming NSW to do so] because there  are proposals from both major parties in NSW to change the legislation, so in that regard, we just need to wait until after the election.”

Poker machine reform has been requested by a number of authorities after the NSW Crime Commission’s report from October 2022 claimed that each year billions of dollars of dirty money were circulated through the state’s pubs and clubs.

”It’s about understanding obligations”:

Lin added: “But we are going to continue with a multi-faceted compliance and enforcement approach which means watching people, physically being present in pubs and clubs to understand what’s going on. We don’t just go on with a clipboard and tick off whether you have the right signage, it’s about observing the behaviors of the staff, it’s about understanding whether they seem to understand their obligations.”