Pubs and clubs in New South Wales (NSW) with gaming machines are now required to adhere to new measures aimed at fostering a culture of harm minimization, providing better support for individuals at risk of gambling harm. These changes, effective from yesterday, are part of a broader initiative to ensure safer gambling environments across the state.

New requirements for responsible gambling officers:

One of the key changes mandates that venues with more than 20 gaming machines must have a dedicated Responsible Gambling Officer (RGO) on duty whenever the machines are operational. This role is critical in identifying and supporting patrons who may exhibit concerning gambling behaviors. RGOs will also facilitate referrals to gambling support services and handle requests for self-exclusion from gambling activities.

Venues are responsible for selecting and training appropriate staff to take on these crucial roles. The number of RGOs required will depend on the number of gaming machine entitlements a venue holds. This scaling approach ensures that larger venues, which may have more patrons and gaming machines, have adequate coverage to support harm minimization efforts effectively.

In addition to the introduction of RGOs, new rules have been implemented regarding the placement and visibility of signage related to Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) and EFTPOS terminals. Licensed venues are now prohibited from placing any signage or advertising for gaming machines on or visible from ATMs or EFTPOS terminals. Furthermore, any signs that direct patrons to these cash dispensing facilities cannot be visible from any gaming machine or within a gaming area.

Venues have been given a one-month grace period to comply with the new signage rules before enforcement begins in August. This transitional period is intended to allow venues sufficient time to adjust and ensure they meet the new regulatory requirements.

Further changes are set to take effect from 1 January 2025. At that time, all ATMs must be located at least five meters away from the entrance to any gaming room or area where gaming machines are located. Additionally, ATMs must not be visible from the entrance of a gaming room or from any gaming machine. These upcoming changes aim to further reduce the risk of gambling harm by creating a physical separation between cash dispensing facilities and gaming areas, encouraging patrons to take a break and reconsider their spending.

Compliance and monitoring:

Liquor & Gaming NSW inspectors have already started visiting venues across the state to ensure they are aware of the new obligations that came into effect on 1 July. These inspectors will continue to provide guidance to the industry regarding the changes that will apply from 1 January 2025.

David Harris, Minister for Gaming and Racing, emphasized the importance of these reforms in reducing gambling harm in the official press release. “We know that gaming machines represent the most serious risk of gambling harm, impacting individuals and their loved ones,” he stated. Harris highlighted the role of Responsible Gambling Officers in identifying and supporting at-risk patrons, and the benefits of positioning ATMs further from gaming areas to encourage breaks in play.

Harris also indicated that the government will closely monitor compliance with these new measures to determine if additional steps are necessary. “Having cash dispensing facilities further away from gaming machines encourages a clean break in play for patrons who may be losing track of what they are spending. We’ll be monitoring compliance in these areas closely to see if we need to look at strengthening harm minimization laws even further.”

The NSW Government’s commitment to implementing these reforms underscores a proactive approach to mitigating gambling-related harm and promoting a safer, more responsible gambling environment in pubs and clubs across the state.