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Tougher South Australian Gambling Laws to be Enacted

Wed, Apr 24, 4:00am by Kevin Pitstock

Tougher Gambling Laws?Gambling laws in South Australia are soon to be more restricting. The South Australian Government is considering its most sweeping anti-gambling laws since the mid 1990’s to combat problem gambling. Many of the proposed changes would happen by January 2017 at the latest.

Regulations on Minor Venues

Under the new statutes, venues would have the choice of becoming either “major” or “minor”. A minor land-based venue would allow a no more than 20 machines. In these minor casinos, gambling would have to be considered an “incidental activity”.

This would relegate the gaming to a secondary activity and revenue source, in comparison to other services, like drinks or food service. Venues involved with 20 or less machines would need to be closed between 2am and 10am. By January 2020, they automated coin machines would be banned. Daily withdrawal would be $250 by February 2014, while loyalty schemes would be ended by July 2016.

Laws for Major Gambling Sites

Major venues could not have more than 60 machines on the premises. Also, regulations would be tighter, so the games would need to help reduce problem gambling. Automated risk monitoring software would be installed by 2017. On-screen messages about problem gambling would go into effect by 2017, while the daily withdrawal limit is expected go to $250 maximum by February 2014.

One proposed law for all gambling locations is to limit betting to $5 per spin at a maximum. This same provision would apply to minor gaming locations, too. At present, all locations have a $10 maximum bet.

Implications of SA Government Reforms

It’s hard to say how the new policies might affect players, individual operators, and the industry as a whole. Targets were set some years ago to reduce the number of machines in the state up to 3,000 by now. It’s been suggested the current law might reduce that number by 800.

A spokesman for the Council of Social Service worries the new laws might cause more machine to be in circulation, instead of less, though. Conventional wisdom suggests the overall number of operators might be less, with more machines concentrated in the big casinos. Small gambling sites might see the new laws as an opportunity to get out of the business altogether, so they might sell their pokies to the big operators at a lower cost.

What seems certain is the withdrawal limits of $250 and the bet size maximum of $5 should reduce rampant gambling. Still, the average citizen can lose a lot of money at five dollars per spin, given the speed with which spins happen. Studies show that the number of venues have a direct link to the amount of problem gambling, says John Rau of the Australian Hotels Association. When a trip to the casino is further, the frequency of gaming sessions goes down. If the law affects the number of venues, then the law should have its desired impact.


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