The New South Wales (NSW) state government has launched an unprecedented crackdown on minors who gamble in licensed premises, warning that entry bans for offenders of a year or more will be timed from their 18th birthday.
Gambling bureaucracy Liquor & Gaming NSW said the campaign is timed to reduce the risk of exposure to gambling and drinking environments for children ahead of Christmas and New Year’s celebrations, as well as to punish premises that allow children to gamble and/or drink on site.
“For the first time in NSW, under-18s caught in a casino will face bans of 12 months or more and fines of A$2,200 [$1,450],” it said in a statement on Friday (December 8).
“If a minor is caught within a casino, we may exclude them from re-entering for a period from their 18th birthday, which means they won’t be able to visit until they’re at least 19, and they may be issued with a fine,” regulatory operations executive director Jane Lin said.
“Minors will also not be allowed to keep any winnings from gambling and will leave empty-handed.”
The statement said the “compliance operation” will continue into early 2024, but it was not immediately clear if the strategy of imposing entry bans on new adults will remain in place.
It was also not clear if the new crackdown is responding to actual worsening industry compliance.
The statement’s example of a 12-year-old girl who was detained after playing electronic gaming machines in a casino is apparently highly unusual and dates back to 2020.
The case in question saw a tourist from China sneak her daughter into Sydney’s Star casino and watch her play slot machines for 17 minutes. The infringement was allegedly only detected when the mother and daughter attempted to leave the casino.
Meanwhile, the gambling regulator in neighbouring Victoria state has successfully prosecuted a hotel that allowed a 16-year-old boy to gamble on its premises on six occasions over six months.
The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) on Monday reported that the first of nine of its prosecutions of clubs and wagering giant Tabcorp Holdings for allegedly allowing underage gambling resulted in a A$25,300 fine, including costs, for the Preston Hotel in northern Melbourne.
Magistrate Carolyn Howe reduced the fine and opted not to record a conviction for the hotel because of the hotel’s cooperation in the investigation.
Local media reported on Thursday that the boy in question gambled A$100,000 in various suburban pubs, forcing his mother to mortgage their home and cash out her superannuation to cover gambling debt after failing to receive support from dozens of organisations or individuals.