In a recent legal development, the licensee of Vbar, an inner Sydney venue, is undergoing prosecution under the Gaming Machines Regulation 2019 for violating gaming harm minimization measures.

The Department of Enterprise, Investment, and Trade has issued a strong caution to licensed establishments, urging strict compliance with regulations. This advisory comes in response to findings by inspectors from Liquor & Gaming NSW (L&GNSW), who discovered an Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) situated in an ‘ATM room’ directly linked to the gaming area.

The Local Court has ordered the licensee to pay AU$5,500 ($3,701) in prosecutor’s costs, determining that the ATM’s location was within the same section of the hotel as the gaming machines. Large letters that had “ATM” text on the door leading to this room and could be seen from the gaming room side brought attention to the violations.This incident is part of an escalated enforcement response by L&GNSW in 2023, resulting in 16 penalty notices and 13 prosecutions related to ATM location breaches.

Jane Lin, Executive Director of Regulatory Operations at L&GNSW, expressed concern, stating, “The position of the ATM was a clear breach of the Gaming Machines Regulation 2019, which stipulates that a licensee must not permit a cash dispensing facility to be located in a part of a hotel or a club premises in which approved gaming machines are located. 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.” 

Lin further emphasized: “This is important because having such ready access to cash withdrawals can make it easier for gamblers to lose track of what they are spending, while locating ATMs further away from gaming machines can encourage them to have a break in play.”

In a parallel effort to combat gambling advertising violations, L&GNSW took action against SportChamps on January 18, 2024. The Sydney-based operator faced a fine of AU$17,500 for inducing individuals to gamble through its website and Facebook advertisements. This marks the sixth conviction for SportChamps for consistently breaching gambling advertising laws since 2017.

L&GNSW’s continuous efforts to address illegal gambling advertisements include a new refine structure, with companies facing maximum penalties of AU$110,000 and individuals liable for fines of up to AU$11,000 for disseminating prohibited gambling advertisements.

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