NSW Gaming Machines Amendment Bill 2008

The NSW government has introduced legislation into Parliament intended to strengthen sustainability of the NSW registered club industry, while at the same time minimising the adverse effects of problem gambling.

The NSW registered club industry has recently experienced a significant drop in revenue due to smoking bans and has also been hit with a gaming machine tax increase. The Gaming Machines Amendment Bill will facilitate the process of amalgamation, as clubs that are no longer financially viable amalgamate with clubs with greater financial strength. The cap of 450 machines per club will be abolished, enabling larger clubs to merge with smaller clubs.

Clubs will find it easier to move gaming machines from one location to another, but not from areas with low numbers of gaming machines to areas with higher numbers of machines. Clubs will be able to relocate gaming machines between related club premises within the same local government area without forfeiture. If machines are relocated to related club premises in a different LGA, then a forfeiture rate of 1 machine in 6 will apply instead of the general forfeiture rate of 1 in 3.

Clubs will be encouraged to establish new ventures of up to 150 machines in areas of population growth and consolidate operations in established areas. Clubs will also be able to locate operations in retail shopping centres as long as patrons are not able to gain access to the club premises directly from the shopping centre, but have to go out to the street and walk around to the entrance.

The total number of machines in NSW will be reduced from 104,000 to 99,000 and the Casino Liquor and Gaming Control Authority will review the cap every 5 years.

Other responsible gambling developments in the Bill are:

  • Cash withdrawals from credit card accounts will not be permitted from ATMs and EFTPOS in clubs & hotels.
  • Prize winning cheques will carry a notation that they can only be cashed by an approved financial institution. This will prevent them being cashed by payday lenders.
  • Gaming machines must not be visible or audible from street to the extent that they might inappropriately advertise or attract the attention of people outside the venue.
  • Clubs will be allowed to advertise gaming promotions directly to members on an "opt-in" basis. They will no longer be at risk of prosecution if someone inadvertently takes gaming machine advertising out of the club.
  • Clubs will be restricted to a maximum of 15% of their total gaming machine terminals being MTGM terminals. Currently only 15 clubs in NSW have more than 15% as MTGMs and these clubs will have 5 years to get their numbers down.
  • It will be a specific offence to falsely claim a gaming machine prize which will make it easier to prosecute people who try to steal someone else's prize.
  • Unclaimed gaming machine prizes will now be paid into a special fund for community development purposes.

The Gaming Machines Amendment Bill is expected to become law before the end of the year.

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