By Caoimhe Hanrahan-Lawrence
Following a Liquor and Gambling NSW (L&GNSW) ban on outdoor gambling-related signage on 1 September, L&GNSW conducted a month-long compliance blitz.
The compliance program inspected over 1100 venues, representing just over 50 per cent of all NSW venues with an entitlement to hold gaming machines. It revealed that only 16 venues still had prohibited gambling-related signage, indicating that almost 99 per cent of venues are complying with the ban.
Minister for Gaming and Racing David Harris spoke to the importance of the new signage ban.
“Removing this signage for pubs and clubs is just one part of our commitment to reducing gambling harm in our community and I thank licensees and industry bodies for getting on board,” he said.
“We welcome the positive impact this campaign has had on the exteriors of licensed venues which now solely feature advertisements for a diverse range of offerings such as food and beverage specials, live music and entertainment instead of signs designed to advertise the presence of gaming machines. It makes a noticeable difference to the amenity of our cities and suburbs,” Harris continued.
L&GNSW has communicated openly with the industry in the leadup to the ban, which was announced in May of this year. This has included issuing a compliance position paper and several communications on its website and to venues in the months and weeks leading up to the ban.
Inspectors are currently assessing the prohibited signage to determine the cause of delay in removing the signage. If the venues are unable to prove the delays were caused by factors out of their control, they will be fined.
“We have been working positively and proactively with industry associations and venues across the state to educate, inform and support them through this process and ensure this high level of compliance,” Harris explained.
L&GNSW inspectors also identified some operators who have put in place signage that appears to circumvent the restrictions, and will determine whether other action, including enforcement or administrative action, needs to be taken.
L&GNSW has signalled those venues with existing non-compliant signage, or new signage that attempts to circumvent the restrictions in the legislation, will face escalated enforcement action, with a zero-tolerance approach from 1 December. Failure to comply with these regulations will incur fines of up to $11,000 per offence.
The prohibition on external gambling-related signage is part the NSW Government’s broader gaming reforms. These reforms include reducing the cash input limit from $5,000 to $500 for all new electronic gambling machines from 1 July 2023, capping the number of gaming machine entitlements in circulation, introducing Responsible Gaming Officers at venues with more than 20 machines, and establishing an independent panel of expert to oversee the cashless gaming trial.
“It’s great to see industry and government working together to prevent and reduce gambling harm in the community and we will continue to do so,” Harris concluded.