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Big change coming to pubs and pokies

NSW pubs and clubs are set for a massive overhaul — as venues with more than 20 gaming machines will be required to have a responsible gambling officer on duty while poker machines are in operation.

The officers will identify patrons at risk of harm or displaying concerning gambling behaviour, refer them to gambling services and facilitate requests for self-exclusion.

All sites across NSW will also have to keep a gambling incident register as part of strict new rules introduced by the Minns Labor government.

Venues have until July to adhere to the changes.

There are 2181 venues allowed to operate pokies in NSW. Of these, 1152 pubs and clubs have an entitlement to operate more than 20 gaming machines.

One in three people who gamble are considered to be moderate or high-risk gamblers according to the Problem Gambling Severity Index.

NSW Minister for Gaming and Racing David Harris described the changes as an “important step” in addressing a chronic problem.

“They will be across pubs and clubs where gambling is happening, and be alert to patrons at risk of harm or displaying concerning gambling behaviour and link them to the support they need, such as the Gamble Aware hotline,” he said.

Reforms on top of cashless gaming trial

The reforms come as more than 4400 electric gaming machines have been added to NSW’s cashless gaming trial, including clubs raked in some of the state’s highest profits.

Eight hotels, 20 clubs and 4485 machines across 17 metro LGAs and seven regional areas have been conditionally approved to participate.

Those figures represent about five per cent of the state’s 86,872 gaming machines.

The new clubs participating include Dooleys Lidcombe Catholic Club (ranked fourth with 450 machines), the Cabra-Vale Ex-Active Servicemen’s Club (ranked fifth with 450 machines), and West HQ, which was formerly the Rooty Hill RSL Club (ranked seventh with 705 machines) according to Liquor and Gaming data collected from clubs between December 1, 2022 to May 31, 2023.

The top-earning club in terms of net profit was the Mounties in Mount Prichard, which has a total of 615 machines.

The policy is a significant expansion of the original 500-machine trial, which had been criticised by welfare groups as being too small.

-with Jessica Wang, NCA NewsWire