NSW Mandates Problem Gambling Floorwalkers At Slots Venues

February 5, 2024
The New South Wales (NSW) state government is set to require gambling venues with more than 20 electronic gaming machines to appoint full-time floorwalkers to monitor problem gambling behaviour.

The New South Wales (NSW) state government is set to require gambling venues with more than 20 electronic gaming machines (EGMs) to appoint full-time floorwalkers to monitor problem gambling behaviour.

Regulator Liquor & Gaming NSW said on Friday (February 2) that gaming venues with 21 or more EGMs must have at least one Responsible Gambling Officer (RGO) on duty whenever slot machines are available to customers.

Venues with 100 or more machines must have at least two officers, while venues with 300 or more machines must have at least three officers on duty, according to a government Position Paper released on Friday.

The midnight-to-8am time period will also require at least one nominated RGO to be largely dedicated to RGO responsibilities.

In addition, venues will be required to “maintain an incident register” of “potential or actual gambling harm” at the venue and maintain a Gaming Plan of Management to ensure legislative compliance, it says.

RGOs will be required to undergo advanced training for their work, as will “senior roles within hotels and clubs that operate gaming machines”, between them numbering more than 3,600 venue employees. 

Deadlines for accreditation are spread between September this year and the following June in order of increasing seniority.

According to the Position Paper’s data, as of October 31, there were 1,152 venues in NSW that have more than 20 gaming machines out of 2,181 gaming machine venues in total.

“Proposed RGO duties” include identifying at-risk customers and engaging with them, then intervening with venue managers in the event of “serious instances of gambling harm”.

RGOs will also provide incident register upkeep, provide responsible gambling information and assist with self-exclusion processes on request, as well as promote harm minimisation with general staff.

Anticipating potential conflicts of interest for RGOs, Liquor & Gaming NSW said officers will be protected by whistleblower legislation and be able to inform the regulator if they “reasonably believe there is a breach of harm minimisation requirements or they are being impeded from performing their role”.

“It will be prohibited for an employer to take adverse action against an RGO for carrying out their duties,” the paper says.

The Position Paper also outlines recordable events for the incident register, including all problem gambling behaviour to be noted, as well as exclusion requests by customers or their families, and all breaches of self-exclusion rules, any incident involving a minor, and the response to any incident.

The changes announced last week will be legislated by amendment of the Gaming Machines Regulation 2019.

“The introduction of Responsible Gambling Officers is the next important step in supporting people who may be experiencing gambling harm,” gaming and racing minister David Harris said.

“They will be across pubs and clubs where gambling is happening, and be alert to patrons at risk of harm or displaying concerning gambling behaviour and link them in to the support they need, such as the GambleAware hotline.”

Melbourne-based gaming law firm Senet said in a review of the changes on Friday that the full-time RGO initiative follows a Victoria state government RGO initiative in 2020.

The latest reform in NSW is part of a wider, legislated crackdown on slot machine venues that has cut cash input limits by 90 percent, banned industry political donations, reduced the state’s machine inventory, banned external and visible internal gaming signage for individual venues, and launched an expanded trial of cashless gaming for more than 4,300 machines.

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