Gambling Reform Coming To Various AU States Bar Crown Resorts

Robert Longthorpe - Senior Writer
Robert Longthorpe
25 July 2023 in News
Gambling Reform To Come To Various AU States Bar Crown Resorts

Australia is known to be quite strict with its gambling laws, including a potential full ban on all gambling advertising. We here at always make sure you're up to date on the latest New Zealand and Australian gambling related news in our news blog.

New Gambling Reform In Victoria

In an ambitious move that has resonated across Australia and the international gaming sector, the state of Victoria in Australia is introducing a series of comprehensive gambling reforms. These reforms are targeted at mitigating the harms associated with electronic gaming machines, colloquially known as "pokies".

Victoria's Premier Daniel Andrews and the Minister for Casino, Gaming and Liquor Regulation, Melissa Horne, publicly announced these measures on 16 July.

Designed to enforce stricter control on pokies and enhance the state's anti-money laundering procedures, these reforms will mark a significant shift in the Australian gambling landscape. The new regulations are expected to establish the "strongest gambling harm preventions and anti-money laundering measures in Australia".

The exclusion of Crown Melbourne, Crown Resorts' establishment, from these reforms is noteworthy and has raised questions in some quarters.

Key Aspects of the Reforms

The announced gambling reforms are sweeping and are designed to fundamentally alter the way consumers interact with pokies. They aim to control the amount that players can bet, increase transparency and traceability, and reduce the potential for extended, uninterrupted play sessions that can lead to significant losses.

These changes include:

  • Mandatory Pre-commitment Limits: One of the significant alterations is the introduction of mandatory pre-commitment limits. Players will now be required to decide how much they are prepared to lose daily, weekly, and monthly before they commence their slot session. This measure, coupled with a carded play system, which links a player's identity to all their gambling activities, is expected to inject greater responsibility into the gambling arena and aid in anti-money laundering efforts.
  • Load-up Limits: The new reforms also include a strict cap on the amount of money a player can load into an EGM at one time, known as the load-up limit. This limit will be drastically reduced from AU$1,000 to a significantly smaller amount of AU$100. This tenfold reduction is a clear attempt to discourage excessive gambling and mitigate the harmful effects of gambling addiction.
  • Venue Curfews: To further control gambling activities, the government will enforce a mandatory closure period for all EGMs in a venue between 4 a.m. and 10 a.m., starting from mid-2024. This curfew has been implemented in response to evidence that some venues have been staggering their opening hours to allow users to hop from one location to another, thereby facilitating continuous gambling. The mandatory closure period is expected to disrupt this pattern and impose a necessary break for gamblers.
  • Slower Spin Speed: The pace of the gaming machines will also be affected by the new laws. The reforms will slow down EGMs, mandating all new machines to spin at a rate of three seconds per game. This is a significant departure from the current speed and is expected to reduce the rapidity and intensity of play, thereby creating a less frenetic and potentially less addictive gaming environment.

The Exclusion of Crown Resorts

Despite the extensive reach of these reforms, they do not extend to the Crown Melbourne, Crown Resorts' establishment. This exclusion has been made even as Crown Resorts finds itself under severe scrutiny due to its association with criminal elements. In light of these allegations, a dedicated "supervisor" has been appointed to oversee the activities of Crown Resorts in the state.

Industry Reaction and the Impact on Endeavour Group

The proposed changes have not been welcomed unanimously within the hospitality and gaming sector. Many industry players have expressed their concern and frustration at the reforms, warning of potential damage to the sector.

One of the major corporations affected is the Endeavour Group, one of Australia's owners of pubs. The company's stock plummeted as a result of the announcement, dropping from AU$6.26 to AU$5.53 on the following Monday, marking the most significant single-day drop that year.

In response to these changes, Endeavour's management has urged for greater collaboration and coordination among state and territory governments when formulating policies to combat problem gambling.

Endeavour has already pledged to swiftly implement the proposed reforms in Victoria, announcing that it will adjust the operating hours of its ALH Hotels in Victoria and introduce the $100 load-up limit as soon as practicable.

The Implications for Other Australian States

The impact of the gambling reforms introduced in Victoria is expected to reverberate across the Australian gaming industry. Other states, particularly New South Wales, which has been discussing similar reforms and the transition to cashless gaming, will likely feel the ripples of these changes.

Observers predict that the measures introduced in Victoria will likely accelerate the state's own gambling transformation efforts. A spokesperson for New South Wales Gaming and Racing Minister David Harris confirmed that the state would be closely monitoring the developments in Victoria and use their learnings to inform their own reforms on gambling.

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