Liquor & Gaming NSW (L&GNSW) are hopeful that the recent prosecution of Vbar’s licensee will serve as a warning to all after it was found guilty under the Gaming Machines Regulation 2019. The Sydney CBD establishment was discovered to be in breach of the Regulation due to its placement of an ATM in an “ATM room” adjacent to its gaming room. A sign reading “ATM” was displayed on the door on the gaming room side.
The Gaming Machines Regulation 2019 stipulates that a licensee “must not permit a facility for the withdrawal or transfer of money from a bank or authorised deposit-taking institution (such as an ATM or EFTPOS terminal) to be located in a part of the hotel or the club premises in which approved gaming machines are located.”
The Magistrate supported L&GNSW Executive Director Regulatory Operations Jane Lin in declaring the ATM’s position to be in breach of the 2019 regulation despite being located in a separate room.
“ATMs must be located in a part of the venue completely separate to gaming rooms or any other part of a venue where gaming machines are located, even if the internal design or fit-out of the room acts to screen the ATM,” said Jane Lin.
“This is important because having such ready access to cash withdrawals can make it easier for gamblers to lose track of what they are spending, while locating ATMs further away from gaming machines can encourage them to have a break in play.”
The licensee was ordered to pay the prosecutor’s costs of $5,500 by the Local Court.
This decision comes following an escalation of L&GNSW enforcement response throughout 2023, during which 16 penalty notices were issued and 13 prosecutions commenced for ATM location breaches.
“L&GNSW has a zero-tolerance approach for venue operators who do not comply with fundamental gaming harm minimisation measures,” said Lin.
“These requirements are clearly outlined in the Gaming Machines Regulation 2019 and have been further communicated to licensees in an effort to prevent and minimise gambling harm.”
Since the beginning of December, L&GNSW inspectors have conducted 437 inspections at high-risk hotels and clubs across more than 30 LGAs.
In addition to ATM placement, inspections have been targeting:
- the availability of credit from ATMs on the premises of a venue
- the visibility of internal gaming-related signage (e.g. ‘VIP lounge’ ) from outside the venue
- hotel layouts that compel patrons to pass through a gaming room to access another area (or service) of the venue
- ensuring that self-exclusion signage is present in gaming rooms
- minors in gaming rooms or using gaming machines or electronic betting terminals
- compliance with Gaming Plans of Management
“Most venues in NSW are complying with these measures but there are still too many that don’t take the necessary steps to protect their patrons from gambling harm,” commented Lin.
“Any operators who attempt to circumvent the legislation will be met with a strong enforcement response.”