- »NSW Eyes Bill to Focus on Gambling Harm Minimisation
NSW Eyes Bill to Focus on Gambling Harm Minimisation
The Office of Responsible Gambling in New South Wales is full of information about and support for a bill ready for Parliament. It is aimed at reducing gambling harm, and the NSW government is accepting feedback before its official introduction.
With GambleAware Week on the horizon as well, it seemed like a good time to turn a lot of NSW’s focus to gambling issues and responsibilities.
Gambling Harm Minimisation Bill
Members of the NSW Parliament may be ready to take up the Gaming Machines Amendment Bill 2015, also known as the Gambling Harm Minimisation Bill.
The proposal’s last official movement dates back to February 2019, when it lapsed at prorogation. But members of Parliament want to take another shot at it. They released a public consultation draft of the latest version of the bill last week.
Its purpose, as stated in the bill is “to amend the Gaming Machines Act 2001 to make further provision with respect to gambling harm minimization, and for other purposes.” And the new amendment aims to strengthen that goal and intensify some aspects of it.
NSW Office of Responsible Gambling Director Natalie Wright urged input. “I encourage you to have your say on this important consultation and to share it with your contacts and communities. All feedback will be carefully considered by the NSW government before the bill is introduced into Parliament.”
Original Bill Details
The original Gaming Machines Act was important, but some of its tenets are now outdated. Even so, it’s important to look at what the original bill dictated.
First, the legislation mandated shutdown periods, some daily and others on weekends and public holidays. It also determined the rights of hotels and clubs to exclude patrons, as well as the right of customers to self-exclude.
The bill also prohibited published gaming machine advertising and set limits on player information disclosure, prohibiting some cash dispensing machines and facilities, and protecting whistleblowers. It also addressed minors and RCG certification.
There are numerous changes proposed in the 24-page amendment, though some can be summarized more generally. These are the primary changes:
- Increase penalty units for violations of shutdown requirements.
- Insert information about excluded persons from hotels and clubs, including definitions, methods, requirements, and advertising and promotion limitations.
- Use other terms instead of “problem” gambling or “problem” gambler.
- Insert requirements for hotels and clubs to keep approved gambling machines by reporting criminal or concerning behavior, hiring gambling contact officers, enabling whistleblower protections, and promoting responsible gambling.
- Insert information about approved responsible gambling training courses.
- Add stricter wording about minors.
- Omit evidentiary provisions.
There is also a schedule of changes proposed for the 2019 Amendment of Gaming Machines Regulation. This includes the following:
- Insert new information about self-exclusion arrangements, procedures, and requirements.
- Ensure authority reviews of exclusions and protections of family members.
- Update the list of authorized gambling counseling service providers.
- Insert definitions and functions of and requirements of gambling contact officers.
The public comment period on this legislation is open and will remain open through October 30.
Looking Toward GambleAware Week
Wright also noted in her recent open letter that GambleAware Week is fast approaching. The week is October 19-25.
The purpose is to increase awareness of gambling and potential harm in the NSW community. Any business or citizen can use the resources provided to highlight responsible gambling during that week. There are posters and videos, and there will be social media posts. The Office of Responsible Gambling will also help anyone interested in hosting a virtual event.
Last year, NSW introduced the “Checkmates” to facilitate discussions about responsible gambling. There were four primary characters:
- Buck, who always asks his mates for money.
- Moby, who always checks the odds.
- Skip, who would rather have a punt than gather with family and friends.
- Betty, who chases gambling losses by betting bigger.
Each of them demonstrates warnings signs of gambling harm and how to more easily recognize them.
For this year’s GambleAware Week, the Office of Responsible Gambling will provide updates on the Checkmates. Hints indicate that the messages will focus on gambling from home to address problems that may have arisen during the lockdowns and online restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic. This may include online gambling and virtual betting.
The same Checkmates will release new videos later this month.
Checkmates have also been incorporated into a trivia game that will be available for play on the website or as a part of a group activity during a Zoom or Skype meeting.