As announced a few months ago, the New South Wales (NSW) Government is now taking actions to keep the promise given before elections to reduce problem gambling. As the NSW Government’s web site reports, external signage indicating the availability of the gambling devices in pubs and clubs will be banned across the Australian state from September 1st, 2023.
The action to remove signage like ”VIP lounge” represents the consequence of the gambling reforms announced in March 2023 that became effective in the first sitting week of the new parliament. Indeed, the new legislation was introduced to ban clubs with poker machines (”pokies”) from financing NSW political parties. The pokies have already been in focus before elections when both parties promised to implement significant measures to reduce the current number of 87,000 poker machines in the state.
Signage Removal and Transition Period:
As for the signage, which has been recognized by the state authorities as a factor driving problem gambling, the new legislation will next week request pubs and clubs to remove, alter, or conceal gambling-related signs before September 1st. Liquor & Gaming NSW, the governmental authority monitoring the liquor, gaming, wagering, and licensed clubs in the state, has determined the action plan and the transition period for the subject facilities to adjust to the new legal requirement. In this respect, clubs and pubs will have three months to remove the signage.
The venues demonstrating justified delays in removing their signage will reportedly be allowed an additional period of three months to comply. According to the NSW Government, the delays beyond such an extended period will imply the regulator’s zero-tolerance approach. But during the transition period, the Government will have a close collaboration with gambling associations and operators to ensure full compliance. The failure to remove signs will reportedly incur the maximum penalty of $11,000 per offense.
The names that will be banned include VIP Room/VIP Lounge, Golden Room/Lounge, Players’ Room/Lounge Prosperity Room/Lounge, as well as the images of dragons, coins and alike.
Minimizing Problem Gambling:
The Minister for Gaming and Racing David Harris reportedly said: ” The NSW government is committed to introducing important gambling harm-minimization measures. The facades of pubs and clubs across the state are littered with signs such as ‘VIP lounge’ to alert those walking or driving by that they have gaming machines. Some of these signs are extremely prominent, can be seen by children and members of the community who are at risk of gambling harm.”
Harris added: “While there are already laws in place that prohibit gaming related signage, venue operators have circumvented these by advertising ‘VIP Lounges.’ We are putting an end to this loophole for the health and well-being of our communities.”