The government of Victoria, the second most populous state of Australia, has introduced new safer gambling policies, including nationally-adopted messaging but also some specific measures focused on the Crown Melbourne casino.
Melissa Horne, the state’s Minister for Casino, Gaming and Liquor Regulation, detailed that Victorian licence holders will have to replace the ‘gamble responsibly’ tagline in their advertising with some more hard-hitting messages.
This falls in line with a nationally-implemented policy adopted earlier this year by the government of Anthony Albanese – both the Canberra and Victoria administrations are held by the Labor Party.
New taglines include ‘Chances are, you’re about to lose,” and ”You win some. You lose more’, whilst adverts will also be required to include contact details for gambling support services.
When the new taglines were introduced earlier this year, Amanda Rishworth, Minister of Social Services, stated: “Online wagering is fast becoming an increasing source of gambling and an increasing source of loss for people. We have consulted widely and, importantly, we have used evidence to inform these taglines.”
An established betting and gaming market home to a number of prominent operators such as Tabcorp, bet365, Flutter Entertainment’s Sportsbet and Entain’s Ladbrokes and Neds, Australia has become increasingly alert to gambling-related harm of late.
This has prompted some political figures to place gambling under an increasingly intense spotlight, with an inquiry initiated in the House of Representatives in September last year.
The new measures introduced in Victoria, however, primarily focuses on the Crown Melbourne, the largest casino complex in the Southern Hemisphere, which will be subject to a new code.
Enhanced time limits have been adopted, requiring 15-minute breaks if a person has been gambling for three continuous hours, and 24-hour breaks if a gambler has been playing for 12 hours within any 24-hour time period.
The Crown’s responsible gambling staff have been given extra powers to enforce these time codes, including the ability to exclude customers from the casino floor if limits are not being followed.
Staff will also be provided with added training and support around identifying signs of problem gambling and conducting interactions, discussing harm services and how to encourage at-risk customers to take a break.
Horne remarked: “This Direction reflects my expectations that Crown must aim to be a global leader in the reduction of gambling harm – or lose their licence.
“Crown is on track to implement mandatory pre-commitment in all electronic gaming machines by the end of this year. When combined with the strengthened code of conduct, the harm reduction protections will be world leading for a casino of this size.”
The new policies were adopted following discussions between the Victorian government, the Crown, the casino staff member’s union, gambling harm researchers and advocacy groups.
Crown Melbourne now has six months to implement the code, with any breaches opening the operator up to potential disciplinary action from the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission, with a maximum penalty of up to AU$100m.
Daniel Andrews’ Victoria Labor government states that it aims to make Crown Melbourne a ‘global leader in the reduction of harm’ via the new measures.
Responding to the news, Mike Volkert, Crown Melbourne CEO, said: “Crown has been working collaboratively with the Victorian government on these world class reforms and once implemented will put Crown on a path to industry best practice by reducing and preventing gambling-related harm.
“We will now work at pace to train our team members and embed the new code. This work builds on our whole-of-company transformation that has been underway for more than 18 months, as we continue to build a Crown that exceeds the expectations of our stakeholders and communities.”