As seen in the August/September edition of Club Insight (Issue 4).
There are almost 50,000 gaming machines located in Queensland, and it is no surprise that a significant proportion of these machines are found within our clubs. Although gaming machines provide a number of benefits to the community, it’s hard to deny the increasing amount of air time that the topic of gambling harm is receiving, both in day-to-day conversations and through targeted media coverage.
Given that we recognised Responsible Gambling Awareness Week earlier this month (29 July to 4 August), we thought it timely to remind clubs of their general obligations regarding responsible gambling, and discuss some noteworthy considerations which are often left out of these conversations, but which cut right to the heart of your club.
Know your obligations
Clubs have an important role to play, as both gaming providers and community advocates, to spread awareness and mitigate harm through responsible gambling measures, including the self-exclusion regime under the Gaming Machine Act 1991 (Qld) (the Act).
Self-exclusion is where a person requests that a club ban them from the venue or gambling activity offered at the premises. Under the Act, clubs are required to assist any person requesting self-exclusion, and receiving this notice triggers the club’s obligation to issue a self-exclusion order prohibiting the person from entering or remaining in the venue or gaming area. A self-exclusion order remains in force for a period of five years and cannot be revoked, except within a 24-hour “cooling-off” period, or otherwise after 12 months from commencing. Clubs must also provide contact details of at least one gambling counselling service.
Venue-initiated exclusion is where a club reasonably believes that a person is a problem gambler and on this basis provides them with a notice banning them from the venue or gaming area. Unless the person makes a written application to the venue or an appeal is made through QCAT, this exclusion will also remain in place for five years.
Clubs must maintain a register of excluded persons and once an order or notice is given, clubs (or employees) must take reasonable steps to prevent excluded persons from entering or remaining in the venue or gaming area.
Consider the effects on your club
While we often hear about the damage gambling harm can do to individuals and communities, we don’t always hear about the direct impact that this issue can have on the reputation of individual clubs and the industry as a whole.
It is important that clubs and their employees uphold high standards for their RSG practices and ensure that responsible gaming policies are kept up to date. These practices will help to mitigate the risk of a gambling related incident occurring at your club and in turn, assist with the protection of your club should you be required to substantiate the club’s measures to encourage responsible gambling.
Clubs have a strong social licence, which is part of the reason they are permitted to conduct gaming at lower tax rates and greater numbers than private enterprises. It is critical for clubs to maintain and enhance this social licence with key stakeholders including government and the community, to ensure clubs can continue to leverage this to their advantage.
Look to the future
Given the effects of problem gambling are high on the community’s - and the Regulator’s - radar, it is not outlandish to predict that there will be industry and/or legislative changes relating to gambling in the near future. Now more than ever, it is important that clubs continue to be aware of these issues and their responsibilities, in order to lead by example and ensure that the reputation of the industry continues to rise.
If you require any guidance or advice relating to your club’s responsible gambling obligations, please contact Matthew Bradford on 07 3224 0353.
Article written by Matthew Bradford (Partner) and Frances Kelly (Solicitor)
"The content of this publication is for reference purposes only. It is current at the date of publication. This content does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be obtained before taking any action based on this publication."