To curb addiction, money laundering

Australia: Victorian government to introduce higher limits on poker machines, make carded play mandatory

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews
Reading time 1:59 min

The Australian state of Victoria is launching reforms for its electronic gambling industry in an effort to better protect residents from potential gambling harm. The government is rolling out new mandatory pre-commitment limits, under which gamblers will be permitted to put a maximum of AU $100 ($67) into an electronic gaming machine, down from the current load-up limit of AU $1000 ($678). 

The government will also make carded play mandatory for poker machines, which the government expects will stop money laundering through gaming venues. Additionally, venues with poker machines, except Crown Casino, will be required to shut their gaming areas between 4:00 AM and 10:00 AM. 

The reforms were announced by Premier Daniel Andrews and Minister for Casino, Gaming, and Liquor Regulation Melissa Horne. Andrews noted that the changes would give Victoria the toughest electronic gambling restrictions in Australia.

He said: "Gambling is, for the majority of Victorians, a perfectly legitimate recreational activity but for some, and I think it's a growing number, it is the cause of profound harm. We will have on any measure the best and strongest system, particularly as it relates to electronic gambling, anywhere in our country and some would argue anywhere in the world.”

"Today's package of reform represents a profound step, indeed perhaps the biggest step of any jurisdiction across our country, to do just that, to keep people safe," he added.

Minister for Casino, Gaming, and Liquor Regulation Melissa Horne

For her part, Gaming Minister Melissa Horne said: "This is a package of reforms that effectively looks at when people can play, how people can play, and also to those important wrap-around services that we provide for people who do experience gambling harm.”  

In addition, machines will be slowed to a spin rate of three seconds per game, limiting the amount of money that can be lost. "What we know through research is that the faster the spin rate the quicker you lose but also it produces that dopamine in your brain that gives you that sense of winning even when you're losing," she added.

The combined reforms are aimed to “keep pace with emerging technologies gaming machines are using, produce safer gambling environments and help patrons to take a break,” noted the Victorian government in a press release. 

The mandatory pre-commitment, carded play and load-up limits will be introduced “subject to thorough consultation with industry through an implementation working group," taking into account trials in other jurisdictions and the experience at Crown Melbourne, which will have mandated pre-commitment and carded play on all EGMs by the end of 2023.

The government also noted that an estimated 330,000 Victorians experience harm as a result of gambling each year, losing around AU $7 billion ($4.7 billion) annually, leading to significant financial distress, mental health concerns and relationship issues.

The government also informed that some of the services previously provided by the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation will be taken over by the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) from July 1, 2024.

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