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Victoria Updates Responsible Gambling Codes of Conduct
On March 1, 2020, the Victorian government made official its new Ministerial Direction to amend the Responsible Gambling Codes of Conduct. Venue operators must do what is necessary to comply with the amendments by September 1, 2020.
Overview of New Venue Responsibilities
Minister for Consumer Affairs for Gaming and Liquor Regulation, Marlene Kairouz MP, outlined changes via the Ministerial Direction to the Responsible Gambling Codes of Conduct. The document was revealed on February 21, 2020.
The overall goal is to require venues to take extra steps – more than in the past – to minimize or prevent gambling harm from gaming machines and pokies in their establishments.
In the corporate arena, this requires venues to nominate and assign duties to responsible gambling officers. They will also need to record details of interventions and other gambling incidents in a responsible gambling register.
New rules require casino employees to monitor customer behavior that may be indicative of harmful gambling practices, which means the venues must educate their employees on said behaviors. They will need to monitor the gaming machine areas and entrances/exits, as well as to interact with people playing those machines for extended periods of time without breaks.
Further, employees must not reinforce or encourage fallacies or misconceptions about gaming machines. This likely includes telling a customer that a machine is “due” to hit or certain pokies are “lucky.”
New Code of Conduct for Venue Operators
Each gambling operator must adopt a new code to be approved by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation. The code must include the responsibilities laid out by the new Ministerial Direction, and it must be available to all customers in the venue and online.
The new code for each venue must clearly state its responsible gambling message.
Further, the venue must comply with regulations that require interactions with customers. Employees must agree not to:
- Induce or encourage a person to enter or remain in the gaming machine area.
- Induct gaming machine play.
- Reinforce or spread fallacies or misconceptions about gaming machines, including telling a customer they can make money by playing or that a machine had not paid winnings in a while and is due to hit; discussing luck or superstitions with a customer; or suggesting or reinforcing a belief that customers can use strategies to win on a gaming machine, as the results are always random.
- Encourage intensive and prolonged gaming machine play.
- Induce a player to withdraw more money for playing.
On the other hand, there are many ways that employees should interact with customers and keep their eyes open for signs of distress.
- Monitor gaming machine area at all times, looking for behavior consistent with gambling harm.
- Ask customers to take a break away from machine area after an interaction that determines the person to be angry while gaming or has asked for assistance due to gambling.
- Interact with customers who have played machines for prolonged periods of time without a break, ask that customer to take a break.
- Interact with customer who refuses to take a break away from the gaming machines, plays multiple machines simultaneously, or reserves a machine while playing another one.
In addition, employees must not play gaming machines on a day during which they worked at that venue.
Gambling Support and Responsible Gambling Officers
Management staff at gambling establishments must meet with responsible gambling officers and all responsible gambling support staff at least once every six months.
Venues must establish an area where customers can order and consume food and drink outside of the gaming machine area. Of course, they can also receive food and beverages in the machine area as well.
Responsible gambling officers, one of whom must be available in the gaming machine area at all times, will have numerous responsibilities:
- Monitor the gaming area to ensure compliance with all regulations and codes.
- Ensure that all incidents and interventions are recorded in the register.
- Advise staff about gambling harm and how to respond to customers.
- Assist gamblers who exhibit behavior consistent with gambling harm.
- Respond to customer inquiries and complaints.
All customers must also be informed that a responsible gambling officer is present and available for assistance.
Said officers must maintain the responsible gambling register with as much detail as possible, including customer responses to interventions and names of customers, if provided voluntarily. Registers must be kept for at least six months and a copy provided to the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation upon request.