Ongoing duty to provide assistance to problem gamblers
A new section 309A has been inserted into the Act that places further obligations on casino and Class 4 venue staff to assist gamblers who demonstrate ongoing concerns about their gambling or other behaviour at the venue.
Essentially, it is not enough to approach a gambler just once about their gambling, provide information about problem gambling, and then take no further action if there are ongoing concerns about their behaviour. Rather, the new provision creates an expectation that further steps will be taken to provide all possible assistance where ongoing concerns about an individual’s gambling exists. If appropriate, these further steps could include providing the gambler with further information about problem gambling or issuing them with an exclusion order.
This measure reinforces the duty-of-care responsibilities casino and gaming machine operators owe to their customers.
Self-excluding problem gambler must provide re-identification information
The Act continues the requirement for exclusion orders to be issued by casino and Class 4 venues to persons that request them.
However, a person requesting an exclusion order must now provide sufficient information to enable them to be re-identified by the casino or Class 4 venue if they attempt to breach the order.
Specifically, a venue manager or holder of a casino operator’s licence, or a person acting on behalf of either of those persons, may refuse to issue an exclusion order if the person requesting the order fails or refuses to comply with a request to:
provide their name and date of birth; and
either provide a recent photograph or consent to a photograph of him or her being taken; or
the quality of the photograph referred to above is such that the person cannot be readily identified.
The provision was introduced as a practical measure to provide a robust exclusion process for venues.
New wording for offences
The Act provides new wording for section 312 of the Gambling Act, which sets out the offences relating to breaches of the exclusion order requirements.
The new wording changes the onus of proof for a charge relating to an exclusion order. Previously, it was an offence to allow a self-excluded gambler to enter the gambling area of a venue, but only if a person knowingly allowed this to happen. This high standard of proof is usually associated with truly criminal offences with high penalties, rather than public welfare type offences like section 312.
The limited scope of the old wording meant that venue personnel who made little attempt to put in place procedures to monitor the exclusion orders they had issued, may not have been held liable if excluded gamblers enter the premises undetected as a result. This undermined the purpose and effectiveness of the exclusion regime.
Accordingly, the nature of the offence has been changed so that an offence is committed if a person who is subject to an exclusion order enters the gambling area of a casino or Class 4 venue. However, there will be “an absence of fault defence” for situations where the defendant (venue manager or holder of a casino operator’s licence or a person acting on behalf of either of those persons) has acted reasonably (that is they had reasonable grounds to believe there were effective procedures in place to prevent excluded gamblers from entering the venue and took all reasonable steps to ensure that the procedures were complied with). This is consistent with the Act’s approach to under-age gambling offences.
Section 310 has been amended to clarify the effect of a problem gambler exclusion order once one has been issued. It states that when a self-identified problem gambler requests exclusion, it is from just the “gambling area” at the venue rather than the whole of the venue. As an example, this would enable an excluded gambler to visit a restaurant at a casino complex but not the casino gambling area.
A new section 312(A) has been added to the Act. This is a new requirement, particularly for Class 4 operators, whereby they will now be required to hold records of gamblers excluded from any of their venues. Currently, records only need to be held at the individual venues. It also requires them to make records available to the Secretary on request of the Secretary. We encourage you to start thinking about ways in which you can comply with this requirement and contact your liaison officer in the Department if you have any queries.