Some societies have asked for clarity about the circumstances in which Class 4 venues may operate gaming machines on days where the sale of alcohol is restricted. These days include Christmas Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and ANZAC day.
The Gambling Act 2003 does not prescribe any explicit restrictions on the days or hours of operation of Class 4 venues. But the Gambling Act 2003 requires that:
Gaming machines may only be operated while the ‘primary activity’ at the venue is offered and available; and
As long as all other Class 4 gaming obligations including requirements of the Act, licence conditions and game rules are met.
When a venue’s ‘primary activity’ is not ‘offered and available’ gaming machines cannot be operated.
The nature of a venue’s ‘primary activity’ will depend on that venue’s specific business and is heavily fact dependent. A venue’s ‘primary activity’ may entirely or partially rely on the sale, supply and consumption of alcohol. However, venue primary activities may also include the provision of food served on the premises (e.g. restaurants), or the provision of sports, recreation or entertainment facilities or a combination of these activities. A venue cannot be used mainly for operating gaming machines.
Venues which are primarily or exclusively used for the sale, supply, and consumption of alcohol (such as taverns) will not be considered to have their ‘primary activity offered and available’ if the alcohol licence does not allow the sale and consumption of alcohol by customers on the premises. As the ‘primary activity’ of the venue is not ‘offered and available’, the venue is not permitted to operate its gaming machines.
For any venue where the primary activity continues to be ‘offered and available’ despite restrictions placed on the venue by its alcohol licence or other legislation, as long as all other Class 4 gambling operation obligations are met, the venue can operate its gaming machines.
Where a venue continues to offer and make its ‘primary activity’ available to customers (subject to the venue’s alcohol licence restrictions) usual staffing and operating procedures may change. When this occurs, venues need to ensure that they continue to operate in a manner and with sufficient staff to enable them to meet their Class 4 gambling operation obligations (for example, gambling area supervision requirements).
Societies may wish to check that the description of a venue’s ‘primary activity’ on the venue licence is accurate. The Department is aware that a number of venues have had their primary activity incorrectly stated and that there has been particular confusion with the use of “Hotel”.
The following information may assist societies to select the most accurate description:
Hotel - a venue whose primary activity is the provision of lodging and ancillary to this alcohol, meals, and refreshments
Tavern - a venue whose primary activity is the provision of alcohol and other refreshments to the public
Restaurant - a venue whose primary activity is the provision of meals to the public for eating on the premises
Our Licensing team is available to work with societies in the New Year to correct any inaccurate descriptions.
To sum up, the decision whether a venue can operate its gaming machines is heavily fact dependent. Generally, a tavern’s primary activity depends on its ability to sell alcohol to its customers. When alcohol cannot be sold or consumed gaming machines cannot be operated. This applies even if alcohol is being served to diners, on days such as Christmas day, where the sale of alcohol is restricted. For other venues that can continue to operate their ‘primary activity’ subject to alcohol licence restrictions (e.g. hotels that primarily provide accommodation, pool halls, bowling alleys or restaurants) gaming machines may continue to operate provided all other Class 4 gambling operation obligations are met.