New gambling code of conduct improved, but nowhere near enough - Alliance for Gambling Reform

New gambling code of conduct improved, but nowhere near enough

21 February 2020

The Alliance for Gambling Reform has welcomed the tightening of Victoria’s gambling venue code of conduct, while expressing disappointment that the regulations do not go far enough in terms of reducing the harm caused by gambling.

New additions to the code that introduce the need for venue operators to take steps to intervene in instances where people are showing signs of gambling harm, and a ban on inducements, are particularly welcome.

However, the Alliance is disappointed to see that the new mandate to intervene gives all the power to the venue operators.

Alliance Chief Advocate Rev Tim Costello said the Victorian Government had sadly missed a huge opportunity to further protect people from gambling harm.

“Under the new regulations, it’s up to venue operators to ‘notice’ gambling harm happening in the first place, and to ‘take all reasonable steps’ (whatever that means) to intervene,” he said.

“This new ban on inducements also lists gambling loyalty programs as an exemption. All people should be protected from inducements to gamble, whether or not they are members of a loyalty scheme. There is a concern that the exemption of loyalty programs from a ban on inducements
could mean the gambling industry will market these programs even more aggressively.

“These sorts of reviews of regulations happen far too infrequently, so it’s frustrating that this review hasn’t gone far enough. The watering down of necessary changes means that this harm minimisation effort is going to be a lot less effective than it could have been.

“However, it is good that some of the suggestions made by public health professionals and people with lived experience of gambling harm have been taken up."
“It’s telling that this is the first time that the gambling venue code of conduct has mentioned gambling harm. Things are changing, for the better.”
Rev Costello said he hoped the Victorian Government would continue to give more weight to public health approaches to gambling.

“Poker machines are designed to be addictive and are associated with immense harm, including mental ill-health, family breakdowns and homelessness. Applying a public health lens to gambling harm is an absolute imperative,” he said.“These changes to the venue code of conduct are promising, but more work is needed.

“We will continue advocating to the Victorian Government to ensure stronger public health approaches to gambling harm as an absolute imperative.”

Media contact: Rebecca Thorpe on 0491 209 436 or rebecca@agr.org.au