Gamblers to be Restricted to $100 Limits on Poker Machines in Victoria as Part of New Reforms

July 17, 2023 | Financial
  • In short: The Victorian government is introducing new restrictions to poker machines including a pre-commitment limit of $100
  • What’s next? Community Clubs Victoria says hyper-regulation could send more people to online gambling

MELBOURNE, Vic. Australia (July 17, 2023) — According to local media reports the Victorian government has announced widespread reforms to the electronic gambling industry, including new mandatory pre-commitment limits.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) in its article said gamblers will be permitted to put a maximum of $100 into an electronic gaming machine at one time, which is down from the current load-up limit of $1,000.

Carded play will also be mandatory for poker machines, which the government says will stop money laundering through gaming venues.

All venues with poker machines, except Crown Casino, will be required to close gaming areas between 4am and 10am.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the changes would give Victoria the toughest electronic gambling restrictions in Australia.

“Gambling is, for the majority of Victorians, a perfectly legitimate recreational activity but for some, and I think it’s a growing number, it is the cause of profound harm,” the ABC reported he said.

“We will have on any measure the best and strongest system, particularly as it relates to electronic gambling, anywhere in our country and some would argue anywhere in the world.

“Today’s package of reform represents a profound step, indeed perhaps the biggest step of any jurisdiction across our country, to do just that — to keep people safe.”

The government says an estimated 330,000 Victorians each year experience harm as a result of gambling, with losses nearing $7 billion.

Pokie machines to be slowed down to restrict losses

In addition to new load-up limits and carded play requirements, machines will be slowed to a spin rate of three seconds per game, limiting the amount of money that can be lost.

“This is a package of reforms that effectively looks at when people can play, how people can play, and also to those important wrap-around services that we provide for people who do experience gambling harm,” Gaming Minister Melissa Horne said.

“What we know through research is that the faster the spin rate the quicker you lose but also it produces that dopamine in your brain that gives you that sense of winning even when you’re losing.”

The government has also revealed some of the services previously provided by the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation will be taken over by the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) from July 1, 2024.

The VGCCC was allocated $71 million in the state budget to take on a larger role in gambling harm minimisation.

Community Clubs Victoria (CCV) said it welcomed moves to curb money laundering activities but questioned whether smaller clubs required the same restrictions imposed on casinos and bigger venues.

“The average gaming room at a not-for-profit community club in Victoria is 54 EGMs with a substantial framework of compliance and systems, self-exclusion program and responsible gaming officers supervising the room,” CCV chief executive Andrew Lloyd said.

“For that reason, it is not comparable to the gaming environment at a casino, or in other states, particularly in New South Wales.

“We remain concerned about hyper-regulation and gambling migrating to the online space, without the same supervision in a physical environmental supports.”

Leader of the Victorian Greens Tim Read said the reforms don’t go far enough.

“The Greens want to see a complete overhaul of the system, so that longer-term we can get pokies out of our communities and put people first.”

He called on the government to implement $1 bet limits, $20 load-up limits and $500 jackpot limits, longer closing periods for pokies venues, from 12am to 10am, and a ban on political donations from the gambling industry.

SOURCE: The Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

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