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NSW to pump AUD$100m into safer gambling initiatives

The New South Wales (NSW) government has planned a series of responsible gambling events and initiatives to mark the state’s Safer Gambling Week, which concludes on 22 October.

Backed by a AUD$100m investment, Safer Gambling Week will see 45 events held across NSW including showcases, roundtables, information sessions, workshops and community drop-in events, whilst information stalls will also be set up at shopping centres. 

Significantly, the government will utilise funds gained from a series of fines against Star Casino – penalised by the NSW Independent Casino Commission (NICC) – to fund a range of long-term safer gambling programmes.

Authorities plan to invest $6.4m in self-exclusion and to introduce third party exclusions in pubs and clubs and $10m across the remainder of the year to the Responsible Gambling Fund for the provision of GambleAware counselling and support programmes.

NSW Minister for Gaming and Racing, David Harris, said: “We know there are people out there experiencing gambling harm in our community, and we are concerned about the impact this has on individuals, their families and the broader community.

“We are committed to increasing awareness of the risks of gambling, in all forms, and I can assure people there is a lot of help and support out there in NSW communities, that is freely available and accessible.

“This GambleAware Week we encourage everyone to talk with friends, family or colleagues if you are worried about what gambling could be costing them.”

The plans come against the backdrop of heightened regulatory and legislative attention on the gambling sector, which has been mounting over the past year in New South Wales but also in the neighbouring state of Victoria and at the federal level.

Labor Party figures in the national government and in the administrations of both states have been pressing for gambling reform, particularly around player protection. At the national level, this has included talk of an advertising ban.

Meanwhile, specifically in NSW, the government has appointed a panel chaired by NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing Commissioner, Michael Foggo, to develop and implement a roadmap for gambling reform by 2024.

This panel will be one of the beneficiaries of the safer gambling funding plan announced this week. An injection of $6.4m will be utilised to run and evaluate a cashless gambling trial in pubs and casinos, whilst its recommendations will be backed by a $21.7m commitment over three years from 2024/25, alongside other harm reduction initiatives.

A raft of reforms have been implemented across NSW during recent months. Notably, a ban on gambling signatures at pubs and clubs has been broadly complied with, according to the Liquor and Gaming New South Wales (L&GNSW) regulator.

Other measures have included a reduction in cash input limits in new electronic gaming machines from $5,000 to $500, a cap on the number of machines in circulation, introduction of Responsible Gaming Officers at venues with more than 20 machines and an expansion of the state’s third-party exclusion register. 

“Everyone has a role to play in keeping our community safe. We encourage everyone to take part in GambleAware Week and show our combined commitment to preventing gambling harm,” Harris remarked.

“One of our key election commitments was to ban external gambling signage from venues, as we know that can be triggering for gamblers, and that ban is in place as of 1 September this year, with 99% of venues compliant. It shows that when government, industry and community work together we can get positive results.”

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