Update: Changes to Gambling Regulation Act 2003

The Victorian Government has this week introduced the Gambling Legislation Amendment Bill 2023, which proposes to make changes to the Gambling Regulation Act 2003 (the Act). This is the first of the proposed reforms to the gambling industry to reach legislation stage. The bill still needs to be debated and passed in both house of the Victorian Parliament.

The key change proposed by this bill is to introduce restrictions on the hours when gaming machines are able to operate. Venues will no longer be able to seek approval to operate for 24 hours a day, and there will be a mandatory closure period between 4am and 10am each day. During these hours, gaming venues will not be permitted to allow a gaming machine to be played. The maximum penalty for beaching this proposed provision of the Act is 120 penalty units, which is currently $23,077.20.

The change is proposed to come into effect on a date to be proclaimed, or by 3 October 2024. Whilst it is common that legislation will come into effect on the date set out in that legislation, it is possible that the change could come into effect earlier.

Whilst this change will prohibit venues from trading in gaming between 4am and 10am, this does not create an as of right ability for any venues to trade up until 4am. The actual trading hours of a venue will continue to be regulated and controlled by the venue’s planning permit and liquor licence. If you require advice in relation to changing the hours currently permitted under a planning permit or liquor licence, our office can provide this. We note that there has recently been case law in the planning jurisdiction that has extended the ability of venues to extend their trading hours without additional planning permission in some circumstances, and our office can advise whether your venue is in this position.

Although this mandatory closure period will not come into effect for some time, venues should continue to be mindful of their nominated gaming trading hours, as the Victorian Gambling & Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) continues to be able to take disciplinary action as a result of any non-compliance with these hours.

To assist venues in ensuring compliance with nominated trading hours, Intralot have recently introduced an opt-in scheme that allows venues to automatically disable machines outside of their nominated gaming hours. This ensures that no non-compliance can occur as a result of machines operating outside of these designated hours.

This update does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. It is intended only to provide a summary and general overview on matters of interest and it is not intended to be comprehensive. You should seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any of the content.

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