Legislative Council: Tuesday, November 01, 2022


Poker Machines

In reply to the Hon. C. BONAROS ().8 September 2022).

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector): The Minister for Consumer and Business Affairs has advised that:

1. As the member would be aware, in December 2018, the Liquor and Gambling Commissioner became the sole regulator for all gambling industries in South Australia following the abolition of the Independent Gambling Authority by the then state government.

The commissioner has since overseen an extensive review of all state-based gambling legislation, resulting in significant gambling reforms which took effect on 3 December 2020. These reforms provide increased protections for South Australians affected by gambling harm.

As part of an ongoing commitment to reduce harm caused by gambling, the commissioner is expected to shortly release a strategic plan which will set out clear direction and objectives around the regulation of the gambling industry in South Australia over the next three years.

The plan is expected to detail a clear path towards ensuring measures are in place to minimise the harmful impact of gambling in South Australia, while maintaining a gambling industry that is able to continue to operate in a responsible manner.

Complimenting the gambling strategic plan, a review of gambling industry staff training requirements has also been undertaken for the purpose of ensuring that training courses reflect contemporary harm-minimisation and responsible gambling expectations.

Key stakeholders, including industry peak bodies, gambling providers, gambling help services, registered training organisations (RTOs), the Office for Problem Gambling (OPG) and gambling researchers, were invited to contribute, with a number making extensive contributions to the review.

Further consultation with key stakeholders is expected to occur in the coming months, after which it is proposed that the gambling administration guidelines for staff training and relevant codes of practice will be updated. It is anticipated that the changes to course deliverables will result in an increase in early identification and engagement with patrons who may be suffering gambling harm.

Furthermore, the Gaming Machines Gambling Code of Practice (the code) has also recently been reviewed and follows the introduction of new codes of practice for wagering and lottery providers. The code was varied by the commissioner on 31 July 2022 and includes an extensive number of changes, including:

references to 'problem gamblers' have been amended to refer to 'people displaying indicators of gambling harm', consistent with language used by gambling help services, the Office for Problem Gambling and training providers

gambling advertising must now not include images or sounds suggestive of coins, banknotes or tickets being inserted or dispensed from gaming machines

the prohibition on television advertising has been extended to 6am to 8:30am and 4pm to 7:30pm on any day

spoken warning messages in gambling advertising must be at a speed that is clear and easily understood

gambling advertising is now prohibited at cinemas when films rated G, PG, M or MA(15+) are showing

gaming machine licensees must develop and implement effective policies and procedures that enable staff to identify people displaying indicators of gambling harm

require that any printed consolidated barring list accessible to gaming staff must be printed in colour so as to ensure staff and licensees are able to accurately identify barred persons

require that barred persons are not to be sent any direct marketing communications

require licensees to take reasonable steps to assist staff experiencing difficulty with any form of gambling not just from gaming machines

require that a prescribed responsible gambling message is displayed on automatic teller machines (ATMs) and cashable ticket redemption terminals (CRTs) while idle

require that licensees must display the condensed warning message, national helpline number and website address at or near each coin machine or cashier area

require licensees to offer to pay patrons winnings of $500 or more by either cheque or EFT

require that licensees must reinforce their commitment to providing gambling products in a responsible and safe environment in appropriate customer newsletters and other communications.

2. The proliferation of gambling advertising on radio, television and online cannot be ignored and while certainly this type of advertising is targeted at a cohort which generally accesses licensed online betting operators, some mass media advertising directed at people who play gaming machines does occur.

As the member would be aware, since November 2018, changes have progressively been made to the rules governing the way that online wagering services are provided to consumers. This work culminated in the development of the National Consumer Protection Framework (NCPF) which aims to help prevent and mitigate the risk of harm from interactive wagering.

Being an online form of gambling which occurs across state boundaries, the Commonwealth is driving this body of work which will ultimately be implemented by all states and territories to the extent that online wagering providers will have to use the same evidence-based messaging in their advertising, direct marketing, websites and other direct communications to their customers.

While this work is underway, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has rules in place which in particular governs gambling advertising during children's programs, live sport and when streamed over the internet.

Similarly, the proliferation of gambling advertising, and the risks of exposing vulnerable people and minors to gambling product advertising, has moved the Commissioner to refer the question of responsible gambling messaging to the South Australian Gambling Advisory Council (SAGAC), in particular, as it applies to gambling advertising around sporting venues, external advertising on licensed premises and restrictions on radio and television.

The Gambling Advisory Council is a dedicated group established under the Gambling Administration Act 2019 whose functions include advising the Commissioner on policies or proposals relating to the minimisation of harm caused by, and associated with, gambling.

Noting the work being undertaken as part of the NCPF, it is likely that the SAGAC will defer its findings until the evidence-based messaging requirements under the NCPF are finalised.

In the interim, the advertising requirements prescribed in the Gaming Machines Gambling Code of Practice shall continue to apply.

3. Since December 2018, the commissioner has overseen an extensive review of all state-based gambling legislation, resulting in a package of significant gambling reforms which took effect on 3 December 2020.

Noting this extensive review and the work currently being undertaken by the SAGAC, the government does not consider it appropriate, at this time, to establish a task force into gaming machines in SA.

4. In accordance with section 27E of the Gaming Machines Act 1992, the commissioner undertook an extensive review of the approved trading system for gaming machine entitlements and provided a report to the former Attorney-General. This report was tabled in both houses of parliament on 3 May 2022.

The report does not seek to provide recommendations, but rather provides the following four options:

Maintain the status quo—no structural changes would be made to the approved trading system, however funding incentives for venues to surrender their licence and all entitlements could be considered.

Modified application of the statutory objective—the forfeiture measures in the current rules would be suspended where the number of gaming machines in operation are less than the statutory objective in order to allow entitlements to be traded on the basis of supply and demand.

Supplementary or sector-specific trading system—the current pricing methodology would be maintained but supplementary trading would allow unsuccessful participants to revise their offers and/or provide separate trading opportunities for the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors.

Direct trading system—gaming machine operators may negotiate the sale of entitlements directly with prospective purchasers, however the commissioner has suggested that entitlements would need to be traded in blocks to allow for an accelerated rate of forfeiture.

The government remains committed to the objective of reducing the overall number of gaming machines in South Australia and continues to consider the options put forward by the commissioner.