The state of Victoria is on track to introduce some of Australia’s most extensive player protection laws under a new legislation proposed by the government, the Gambling Legislation Amendment Bill 2023.
Drafted and sent to parliament by state Minister for Casino, Gaming and Liquor Regulation, Melissa Horne, of the governing Labor Party, the Bill proposes new measures for both sports betting and land-based gaming operations.
On the sportsbook side, the Bill suggests an expansion of Ministerial powers to ban ‘harmful betting’ on events taking place outside the state, such as sports played by minors. This builds on a ban introduced earlier this year targeting in-state betting.
Adopted in August, the ban prevents betting on events in Victoria in which participants are minors, including fixtures for under-19s and open events in which younger athletes may compete, regardless of if other competitors are over 19.
Horne remarked: “Our previous reforms have delivered stronger oversight of the gambling industry in Victoria with a regulator unafraid to hold venues to account – now we’re doing more important work to prevent and reduce gambling-related harm.”
Further reforms to the retail gaming sector include mandatory closure periods for gaming machine areas, with the exception of casinos, between 4am and 10am each day expected to come into effect by mid-2024 should the legislation be approved.
The governments’ rationale for this reform is based on evidence suggesting that venues have been ‘staggering opening hours’, which has encouraged bettors to move between venues once one closes.
“We’ve seen predatory behaviour from some venues, allowing people to keep gambling for hours, at any hour,” Horne continued. “Closing gaming areas between 4am and 10am will give people an important break to reassess and walk away.”
The proposed changes to Victoria legislation follow a trend across Australia, with the federal government – also controlled by the Labor Party under Prime Minister Anthony Albanese – looking to adopt nationwide reform.
In July, the Royal Commission into the Casino Operator and Licence concluded its investigation into Australia’s betting industry and potential societal impacts, recommending 33 reforms to the government.
Titled “You win some, you lose more”, the parliamentary report has suggested sweeping reforms for payments and advertising related to gambling. The former would extend the ban on credit card payments in land-based gaming to the online sector.
In the case of the latter, a wide-ranging advertising ban has been proposed. If approved, the ban will be rolled out over a three year period ending with full prohibition of online betting marketing across all forms of media.
Meanwhile, the new policies suggested in Victoria follow on from additional reforms implemented in the state, Australia’s most populous territory, earlier this year.
As well as the ban on betting on under-19 events, from December 2023 gaming machine players at casinos will be required to track their activity using the YourPlay pre-commitment system, and this will have to be adopted on table games such as poker and baccarat from December 2025.
Additional incoming requirements include mandatory pre-commitment limits and carded play for all electronic gaming machines, capped load up limits of $100, down from $1,000, and a slowing of spin rates to reduce the pace of games.