On 29 November 2012, Federal Parliament passed gambling reform legislation that will see the most significant and far reaching national reforms put in place to reduce the harm from poker machines. The legislation includes the National Gambling Reform Act 2012, the National Gambling Reform (Related Matters) Act (No. 1) 2012, and the National Gambling Reform (Related Matters) Act (No. 2) 2012.
The Acts set out key requirements for voluntary pre-commitment on poker machines, dynamic warnings and $250 daily ATM withdrawal limits in gaming venues (excluding casinos).
These reforms will be phased in over a decade to reduce the impact on pubs and clubs.
The Acts require all gaming machines be part of a state-wide pre-commitment system and display electronic warnings by the end of 2018. In addition, all new gaming machines that are manufactured or imported from the end of 2014 will be required to have pre-commitment capability.
However, in recognition that small pubs and clubs, especially in regional areas, are not the same as big gaming venues, their timeline for implementation has been extended.
Venues with between 11 and 20 gaming machines will have an extra four years, until 2022, to bring in pre-commitment technology. The very small venues, those with 10 or fewer gaming machines, will be able to implement the technology as they replace their machines in their usual replacement cycle.
The Acts also introduce a $250 per day ATM withdrawal limit for gaming machine premises excluding casinos, taking affect from 1 February 2014. This reform responds to the recommendation of the Productivity Commission that a daily limit of $250 should help address gambling harm without overly affecting non-problem gamblers and other patrons.
To monitor and investigate compliance with the legislation, the Acts establish a Regulator who will have the authority to initiate enforcement measures, including civil penalty orders, infringement notices, injunctions, enforceable undertakings and compliance notices.
The legislation received Royal Assent on 11 and 12 December 2012 and can be accessed below: