The New South Wales (NSW) state government said it is engaged in an “escalation in enforcement response” against improper ATM locations in licensed gambling venues, part of a wider, toughening response to industry non-compliance.
Liquor & Gaming NSW on Tuesday (January 23) said it issued 16 penalty notices and launched 13 prosecutions of licensed venues in 2023 over “ATM location breaches”, with the latest conviction seeing Sydney’s Vbar paying the prosecutor’s costs of A$5,500 ($3,600).
The bar was found guilty in a Sydney local court of locating a cash machine in an “ATM room” that was attached to the bar’s gaming room and accompanied by the letters “ATM” on the door of the room, the regulator said in a statement.
“ATMs must be located in a part of the venue completely separate to gaming rooms or any other part of a venue where gaming machines are located, even if the internal design or fit-out of the room acts to screen the ATM,” said Jane Lin, executive director of regulatory operations.
Tuesday’s public statement on licensed operators, apparently the first to announce annual punitive data for the segment, amounts to a reading of the riot act to the lucrative slot machine segment, and follows a similar Liquor & Gaming NSW warning to corporate bookmakers.
In a first for the regulator, Liquor & Gaming NSW last week released details of all penalty notices and prosecutions for corporate bookmakers in 2023, including previously undisclosed prosecutions, with all offences involving illegal advertising.
As with the ATM punishments, the regulator did not announce most of the improper advertising cases at the time the prosecutions were launched or convictions recorded.
That summary announcement followed an industry-wide warning to bookmakers in December to rein in their conduct or face tougher enforcement, and even a legislative response, if operators do not comply.
Tuesday’s statement did the same, hinting at a failure in deterrence while warning of “an enforcement response in the form of large fines, potential disciplinary action, or the issue of statutory directions to require that changes be made at a venue”.
The statement added that the regulator is “focusing on the placement of ATMs and gambling harm minimisation measures involving withdrawal from credit cards, as part of a targeted compliance campaign over the summer months”.
“Inspectors have conducted 437 inspections at high-risk hotels and clubs across more than 30 [licensed venues] since December 1, 2023, and will continue to closely monitor these gaming venues,” it said.
In particular, inspectors are watching for visibility of interior gaming-related signage from outside venues, venue layouts that “compel” customers to pass through gaming areas and the presence of mandatory self-exclusion signs in gaming rooms.
The NSW government regulator and the affiliated Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) have been subjected to sustained criticism over compliance failures across the industry, including casinos, slot machine operators, corporate bookmakers and retail wagering.
Their acceleration of enforcement responses loosely shadows the shift to a much harder line on enforcement by neighbouring Victoria state’s gambling regulator, the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission.