Public Encouraged to Share Input on Gambling Harm Bill

The New South Wales wants to hear from its citizens. The focus is one topic in particular: gambling.

The Gambling Harm Minimisation Bill is one that will implement new policies and strengthen existing ones pertaining to the minimisation of gambling harm. Members of the general public may send their opinions online, via email, or by mail, but the feedback window closes at the end of the night on October 30, 2020.

Bill Overview

The NSW Office of Responsible Gambling has been working intently to minimise gambling harm this year. With the economic and social upheavals caused by the coronavirus pandemic, it provided an opportunity to focus on a bill that they’ve considered for some time.

The original proposal moved around Parliament in February 2019 but lost momentum through the year. Now, numerous members of Parliament want to push this latest version of the bill. It is the Gambling Harm Minimisation Bill, also known as the Gaming Machines Amendment Bill 2020, and it will – if passed – update the Gaming Machines Act 2001.

The general idea is to make all gambling venues more proactive about addressing gambling harm and stopping it before it starts. Instead of waiting for patrons to ask for assistance, venue operators will be required to establish ways to present customers with more readily available help.

Further, it will expand self-exclusion opportunities, including online requests and requirements for venues to respect self-exclusions. And, somewhat controversially, family members of a problem gambler will be able to request that someone be banned.

Requiring Venues to be Proactive

One of the primary goals of the new bill is to improve the management and intervention of venues for people who display signs of gambling harm. The onus will be on the venue operators to:

  • A person having completed an advance training course of Responsible Conduct of Gambling must be on duty at all times when gambling machines are open for use.
  • Actively identify gamblers who display problematic gambling behaviours and offer assistance in the form of support tools like counselling and self-exclusion.
  • Record gambling incidents of note and find ways to address them on a statewide registry.
  • Exclude anyone displaying problematic gambling or showing harm to others from gambling via an involuntary exclusion order for at least six months.
  • Record exclusions in statewide Exclusion Register.
  • Implement a regime to stop excluded people from entering gambling areas of venues.
  • Suspend a self-excluded person’s player account, membership in any rewards program, and refund money in any account.

The Office of Responsible Gambling would likely be in charge of gathering requirements for the training courses and registries. NSW would also need to help venues with guidance on preventing excluded gamblers from entering venues. In addition, it would need to police the venues for violations and impose penalties on venues that do not comply.

Further, venues that award prizes to an excluded gambler would have to assist in recouping those prizes and then giving it to the Responsible Gambling Fund.

Improving Self-Exclusion

Gamblers will receive more information about self-excluding from gambling and more ways to do it. Some of the improvements proposed in the bill are:

  • People can use an online portal to self-exclude.
  • Offer more (and shorter) exclusion periods, less than the current six-month period.
  • Automatically refer gamblers to counseling services when they self-exclude, though they may opt out purposefully.
  • Excluded people must forfeit all prizes won during a self-exclusion period.

The statewide Exclusion Register and Online Exclusion Portal will provide a central database for all exclusions, whether made by people themselves or venues. All current exclusion programs, including ClubSAFE Multi-Venue Self-Exclusion Program and BetSafe, will incorporate into the new registry.

Excluding Family Members

One of the most interesting parts of the new bill is that it will give people the right to exclude a family member from a gambling venue. There are some steps involved, though.

  • Family member can apply to a venue to request a ban for a person from that venue.
  • Gambling counsellor may apply on the family’s behalf to request a ban.
  • Venue must refer the family member to gambling counselling services, if not already involved.
  • Venue must assist family members in pursuing the proper steps in the exclusion process.
  • Venue must assess the application and offer counseling and self-exclusion options.
  • If gambler will not cooperate, venue may exclude for a minimum of six months.
  • Venue must make a decision and inform the family member and gambler with 21 days of the application receipt.
  • Venue must advise all hotels, pubs, and clubs within a 5km radius of the order.

In complicated cases, the venues may ask advisors for advice. Those advisors being pre-approved by the Secretary of the NSW Department of Customer Service.

Gamblers may oppose the petition from a family member, but the venue’s decision is final. The gambler can seek a review by the NSW Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority within 14 days of the venue’s decision.

Input Welcomed and Encouraged

With all of this in mind, the NSW Office of Responsible Gambling asks for everyone’s input. The online survey is available to those who wish to submit their feedback in that way.

People may also email their thoughts to gaming.policy@liquorandgaming.nsw.gov.au or mail them to the Liquor & Gaming NSW Policy, Gaming Machine Bill 2020 at GPO Box 7060 in Sydney 2001.

More information about the bill is available in this NSW file.

All submissions must be received by the end of the day on October 30, 2020.

 

Rose Varrelli

Rose Varrelli has always been passionate about online casinos, as she's been a player at a variety of places for years. Rose turned her personal knowledge and insight into a writing career. She aims to provide readers with the most up to date, informative news in the world of online casinos!

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