An audible sigh of relief could no doubt be heard from the collective staff and management of pubs and clubs accross Australia as the Federal Government recently announced that it would not be pursuing the terms of the ‘licence to punt’ agreement, which required untested and uncosted mandatory pre-commitment technology to be installed on gaming machines across Australia by 2014.
Instead, they announced a gambling reform package that includes a trial of pre-commitment technology, increased funding for counselling and measures to control the online gambling environment. In summary the Government’s proposed legislation requires that:
- All new poker machines manufactured from the end of next year must be capable of supporting pre-commitment;
- All poker machines must be part of a state linked pre-commitment system by 2016, except eligible small venues which will have longer;
- All poker machines must have electronic warnings and cost of play displays on poker machines by 2016; and
- A $250 daily withdrawal limit must be set on ATMs in gaming venues (excluding casinos) by 2013.
In addition to rolling out pre-commitment on poker machines and ATM limits, the Government is boosting counselling support, strengthening self-exclusion arrangements and staff training in pokies venues, banning the promotion of live odds during sports coverage and cracking down on online betting.
Whilst the outcome is certainly better than the original proposal for mandatory pre-commitment, the costs of the roll-out are yet to be fully considered and financing these proposed requirements will no doubt form a critical issue for the hospitality and gaming industries in the short to medium term.