Victoria is set to be the first state in Australia to introduce a pre-commitment system for gaming machines which will allow players to predetermine net loss and time limits. The Gambling Regulation Amendment (Pre-Commitment) Bill 2013 (Vic) contains the proposed scheme which will amend the Gambling Regulation Act 2003 (Vic) to establish the pre-commitment system and require venue operators to ensure the system is installed and functioning at their gaming venue. If the bill is passed it will make pre-commitment systems for gaming machines mandatory in Victoria from 1 December 2015. Similar federal legislation was passed at the end of 2012, however the earliest certain gaming venues will be required under the federal scheme to introduce the system is 2018.
The defining characteristic of a pre-commitment system is that it provides gamblers with a tool that allows them to take charge of their decisions. They can eliminate the possibility that they will spend significantly more money than they originally intended as a result of the adrenalin of the game. However, the effectiveness of such a scheme is relatively untested in Australia as a proposed major trial in the ACT was abandoned this year.
Key Proposed Changes
- From 1 December 2015, venue operators must ensure that their gaming machines are connected to the pre-commitment system and must have installed equipment in their venues which provides access to the system.
- The equipment will display messages to gamblers about their playing activity and when they are reaching their limit. They will be able to track their playing history and spending over time.
- Loyalty system providers and venue operators must inform gamblers about how the pre-commitment scheme works in their player activity statement. Any loyalty scheme must use the same equipment as the pre-commitment system and the same card.
- A venue cannot have a separate limit-setting system so as to avoid confusion as to the two systems.
- Prior to the introduction of the pre-commitment system in 2015, loyalty scheme providers must allow loyalty scheme participants to set a limit to the amount of time the participant can play or the net loss they can make under the scheme.
The proposed legislation creates a regulation making power, so venue operators should also be aware that further obligations are likely to be enacted through such regulations. The Victorian government will also revise the responsible gambling codes of conduct to require venues to support and promote the use of pre-commitment technology.