Harm Minimisation: Dee Why RSL Case

On the back of the Dee Why RSL case, the NSW Government is taking definitive action when it comes to identifying and supporting gaming machine players who are experiencing problems and harm from their gambling.

On 25 September, the NSW State Government released a draft consultation document regarding the Harm Minimisation Bill.  It only applies to pubs and clubs and focuses primarily on self-exclusion.  Overall, the bill is aimed at improving the regulatory framework for responsible conduct of gambling in NSW.

You can download a PDF version of the bill HERE

The explanatory paper states that amendments to the legislation is under consideration because “despite the current harm minimisation obligations in place, gambling harms from gaming machines continue to rise.”

The paper goes on to spell out that to better enable venues to proactively engage and assist people who are experiencing or are at risk of gambling harm, the proposed changes focus on:

  • Active intervention and enhanced harm minimisation training requirements.
  • Variable self-exclusion periods.
  • Changes to referrals for gambling counselling services.
  • Third-party and venue-initiated exclusions.
  • Disincentives to breaching exclusions.
  • A single state-wide online exclusion register.
  • New offence provisions and increased penalties.
  • Whistle-blower protections.

In addition to the above, whispers have emerged over the last few days that a cashless system which utilises a gambling card could be an additional consideration. It’s unclear if this forms part of the current raft of changes in the bill.

It remains ambiguous as to the impact on the casinos regarding a cashless system. Of course, this will place any casino in a better position, relative to a club or pub, should it not apply to them.

A few significant impacts/outcomes of a cashless system are:

  • Turnover is more auditable.
  • Consideration will need to be had to the time and cost for pubs and clubs to make sure machines and systems are compatible.
  • There are many players who prefer the anonymity of cash and do not trust any system which requires them to identify themselves.

Whatever the outcome here, it is clear that COVID-19 has increased the shift from cash to card in many areas of life. The long-term picture for gaming is unclear but you would not think it will remain a cash-based system for the long term.

There is quite a bit of political jockeying with such a contentious bill and it is unclear if the bill will have the numbers to pass legislation through the State’s upper house.

There is no denying that the current Queensland Government is also focused on harm minimisation and will be keenly observing how well the bill is supported in NSW.

If you would like to talk to me about what courses we have available for your staff in relation to responsible management of gaming at your venue please feel free to contact me on 0412 886 031 or paul@dws.net.au.


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