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Melanie Porter June 5, 2023 3 min read
ILGA Pondering Early Venue Closure to Prevent Problem Gambling
New South Wales Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority might impose a midnight lockdown of poker machine venues to prevent problem gambling
In February, the Liberal and Nationals New South Wales (NSW) government began paying more attention to poker machines spread throughout the state, taking into consideration a fully cashless strategy which had already received support from the NSW Police Commissioner in December 2022, and higher limitations on the use of the machines, as well as their number.
The government was then taking into account the possibility to limit these establishments’ working hours, with plans of all parties to buy back 2,000 slot machines from the venue over the course of the following five years.
Now, the state’s gambling regulator Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority (ILGA) has moved on to a more serious crackdown measure on all available slot machines after 12 am. The proposal comes as a result of new research that has indicated an important connection between players who engage in slot games late at night and problem gambling.
EGMs’ Late Night Play Effect on Players’ Behaviors
The Electronic Gaming Machine (EGM) Late Night Play on EGM Player Behaviors study, which received its funding from the NSW Government’s Responsible Gambling Fund and received support from Liquor & Gaming NSW, was conducted via Roy Morgan Research.
The research was aimed, among others, at assessing whether the closing times of poker machine venues could represent a valid and efficient means of minimizing harm related to excessive gambling for EGM gamblers who have been found to be at risk of suffering from problem gambling issues.
The results of the study have revealed that the rate of gambling harm has gone up considerably for players who engaged in playing slots late in the evening and early in the morning.
The same study also showed that people who suffer from gambling problems represented the great majority of players who opt for gaming late at night. Namely, close to two-thirds of players who visit poker machine venues between the hours of 2 am and 8 am have been found to suffer from important negative consequences related to problem gambling.
ILGA’s chairperson Caroline Lamb explained that the authority “had been concerned for some time” about the type of impact that gambling late at night and early in the morning would have on players, their families , and the local communities.
Lamb added that they will make use of the conclusions of the study when implementing their “statutory obligation to minimize gaming-related harm”.
ILGA Stepping Up Its Player Protection Game
ILGA has already enforced a series of other measures meant to lower and minimize gambling harm while addressing concerns regarding the gaming applications that boost the availability of poker machines well after midnight.
Among them, Lamb mentioned Guideline 16 which was projected to assist gaming venues with cutting gambling harm after 12 am while promoting responsible gambling practices.
Guidelines 16 sees that all gaming-related apps should be accompanied by a dedicated Gaming Plan of Management which should encompass measures that support licensees in minimizing gambling-related harm in their establishments. The regulator has also imposed a number of additional license conditions on all gaming apps in order to mitigate the same risks.