The Government of Victoria is set to introduce mandatory closure periods for poker machine areas at brick-and-mortar venues across the state. The only exception will be made for Crown Resorts’ casino.
Victoria’s Premier Jacinta Allan shared that her Cabinet remained committed to significant reform to prevent and reduce problem gambling harm after seeing too much predatory behaviour that, in some cases, had immensely boosted gambling harm in communities across the state.
The enforcement move comes as part of a piece of legislation that was officially introduced to Parliament by the Casino, Gaming and Liquor Regulation Minister Melissa Horne to amend Victoria’s gambling laws. Under the latest overhaul of the state’s gambling sector, which is set to take effect as of mid-2024, all gaming machines will have to be turned off from 4:00 AM to 10:00 AM every day.
The operating restriction was unveiled after the Victorian Government shared some concerns that certain venues across the state were extending their working hours in order to keep their patrons gambling after other venues shut.
According to Premier Allan, requiring local venues to cease poker machine operations for a certain period of time put the potentially harmful activity on hold and provided people with the chance to simply stop and think about what they were getting themselves into.
Crown Casino Melbourne Announced as the Only Entity Exempt from Mandatory Poker Machine Switch-Offs
The Premier of Victoria was also asked why Crown Melbourne was the only entity that was exempt from the measure. Ms Allan explained the Cabinet’s motives for providing the Australian gambling giant with such an exemption, saying that it was different to other suburban venues in Victoria and flagged changes that specifically applied to the Southbank location. She further noted that Minister Horne was specifically working on Crown Resorts’ position in the market as a result of some of the recent inquiries faced by the company.
Premier Allan also explained that, apart from being a very big venue, Crown Melbourne had its own regulatory framework which, after some of the aforementioned inquiries, is about to change as a result of a significant amount of effort that would put the Australian gambling giant in its rightful place in the local gambling market. On the other hand, this work would make sure that the company would this time remain compliant with the regulatory rules.
The piece of legislation that has been recently introduced to Parliament by Minister Melissa Horne is aimed at making it clearer and easier for the state’s gambling regulator – the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) – to deal with casino property in case it decides to refuse to grant a casino operating permit to a certain company. Apart from that, it would ensure the mandatory carded and pre-commitment play systems were up and running across the casino, including on table games.
As previously reported by Casino Guardian, in July, the Victorian Government unveiled the implementation of some gambling reforms, including the enforcement of mandatory carded play and pre-commitment limits for all electronic gaming machines across the state, AU$100 credit limit, and slower spin rates to reduce the current pace of the games in an effort to better protect customers from potential harm.
As of December 2023, every patron who plays a gaming machine at the casino venue would have to use the YourPlay pre-commitment system to track their play, and by December 2025, the said system would have to be implemented on standard casino table games, such as baccarat and poker – a move that would require a new table game technology to be developed.
Olivia Cole has worked as a journalist for several years now. Over the last couple of years she has been engaged in writing about a number of industries and has developed an interest for the gambling market in the UK.