83% of NSW residents back proposed gaming machine restrictions, survey finds

New responsible gambling measures have recently been introduced in NSW.
New responsible gambling measures have recently been introduced in NSW.

Some 72 per cent of residents said they don’t trust the NSW government to stand up to the gambling industry.

Australia.- A survey conducted by Wesley Mission and FastTracker has found that 83 per cent of respondents support a proposal to switch off gaming machines between midnight and 10am. Meanwhile, 72 per cent don’t trust the NSW government to stand up to the gambling industry and 60 per cent question the government’s commitment to addressing gambling harm.

About one-third of the people supported the government making cashless gambling cards mandatory at all venues, with limits on how much money can be lost. The survey, in its third iteration, involved 1,007 participants and was conducted between April 19 to 21.

See also: Australian online gambling credit card ban enters force

Wesley Mission CEO and leading gambling reform advocate, Rev Stu Cameron, said: “The community couldn’t be clearer and for the government, it couldn’t be simpler to deliver on this reform. We believe powering down pokies from midnight to 10 am would have an immediate and profound impact in significantly reducing gambling harm.

“The Markets Hotel at Homebush for example, is operating from 6 am to 3 am Fridays and Saturdays and the gaming room is open 168 hours per week. It is staggering when you consider the average person’s working week is 37.5 hours.

“There is no reason for pubs and clubs to continue operating poker machines in the early hours of the morning when we know people are at their most vulnerable. It is abundantly clear that a simple measure can prevent and minimise harm from late-night gambling. It is also clear the public strongly support this measure.”

He added: “While the government is to be commended for enforcing the poker machine signage ban last year, the community remain clearly frustrated with the pace of reform. They want to see more prompt action to reduce gambling harm and address this serious public health issue.

“The government have been presented with an opportunity to rebuild community trust and power down New South Wales’ 87,000 poker machines from midnight to 10 am.”

See also: NSW launches new youth gambling prevention campaign

New responsible gambling measures introduced in NSW

A new rule that requires pubs and clubs in NSW with more than 20 gaming machines to have a responsible gambling officer (RGO) on duty while machines are in operation entered into force on Monday (July 1). Clubs with more than 100 gaming machines entitlements will need additional RGOs.

RGOs are tasked with identifying and assisting patrons who exhibit signs of problematic gambling behaviour. They will also facilitate self-exclusion requests and provide referrals to support services. Venues are responsible for selecting and training appropriate staff.

The updated regulations prohibit licensed venues from displaying any signage or advertising related to gaming machines on or visible from ATMs or EFTPOS terminals. They must not use any directional signs for cash machines if they are visible from gaming areas. Venues have been granted a one-month grace period to adhere to the signage rules before enforcement begins in August.

From January 1, 2025, further changes will take effect, requiring all ATMs to be positioned at least five metres from the entrance to any gaming room or area where gaming machines are located. They must not be visible from gaming rooms or machines.

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