Published: 2023/07/27

Updated: 2023/07/27

Author: Alex Matt

Victoria Introduces Extensive Pokies Reforms to Combat Gambling Harms

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Victoria electronic gaming machine reforms

On July 16, Victoria’s Premier, Daniel Andrews, and the Minister for Casino, Gaming, and Liquor Regulation, Melissa Horne, revealed a comprehensive set of reforms to minimize the negative impacts of electronic gaming machines, commonly called “pokies.”

The reforms encompass various responsible gambling and anti-money laundering measures for operators of electronic gaming machines in Victorian retail and land-based establishments. The key changes include:

  1. Mandatory pre-commitment limits: All pokies in the state will be required to have mandatory pre-commitment limits, where players must set the amount they are willing to lose before commencing play.
  2. Identity verification through carded play: Players’ identities will be linked to all their gambling activities, introducing a system of carded play to enhance accountability.
  3. Reduced load-up limit: The government will impose a cap on the maximum amount of money a player can input into an EGM at one time, reducing the current limit of AU$ 1,000 to AU$ 100.
  4. Curfews in venues: There will be enforced curfews for EGMs in venues from 4 am to 10 am, beginning in mid-2024. This measure aims to prevent staggered opening times, which some venues have utilized to encourage continuous gambling across different locations.
  5. Reduced spin speed: New machines will be required to have a mandatory spin speed of three seconds per game, slowing down the pace of play.

Premier Andrews expressed confidence in the reforms, stating that they would provide the most robust gambling harm prevention and anti-money laundering measures in Australia. He emphasized the government’s commitment to assisting those affected by gambling harms in turning their lives around.

The introduction of these initiatives will be subject to industry consultation through an implementation working group. The government aims to learn from trials of similar restrictions in other jurisdictions and from the experience of Crown Melbourne, which will implement mandatory pre-commitment and carded play by the end of 2023.

The reforms were prompted by the findings of the Royal Commission inquiry into misconduct at Crown Melbourne. The Commission deemed the casino “unsuitable” to hold a license in the state due to engaging in illegal, dishonest, unethical, and exploitative conduct. Subsequently, the Crown faced regulatory scrutiny and significant fines for various breaches and responsible gaming failings. 

In response to the inquiry, the Victorian government established the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) to regulate gaming in the state. The 2023 Victoria budget allocated AU$71 million to the VGCCC to enhance its role in gambling harm reduction, taking over most functions of the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation starting from July 1, 2024.

Melissa Horne, the minister, stressed that gambling harms extend beyond monetary losses, affecting relationships, jobs, and overall well-being. The government’s continued efforts aim to ensure stronger oversight of the gambling industry and, more importantly, to reduce gambling-related harm in Victoria. 

The Author

The Author

Alex Matt


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