Earlier this year the NSW Labor government announced that under the gambling reform package pubs and clubs would have to remove all signage promoting gambling from their venues or face hefty fines.
In May, venue operators were formally notified about signage that needed to be removed or concealed before September. Now the time has arrived and pubs displaying signage with the terms such as “VIP room”, “lounge”, “golden room” and “prosperity lounge”, as well as common motifs associated with gambling such as dragons and coins, must be removed.
Failure to remove the signage could result in a fine of up to $11,000 per offence.
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With half of Australia’s poker machines found in NSW, the state has the second highest number of poker machines in the world – only Nevada, USA, has more. The NSW government’s latest six-monthly gaming machine data shows that clubs pulled in a record $8.1 billion in poker machine profits last year (gamblers in NSW lost $4.6 billion).
Earlier this year Broadsheet spoke to Odd Culture group CEO James Thorpe, who has been vocal about the benefits of removing gambling machines from Sydney pubs. Thorpe called the signage ban “a much stronger than anticipated step in the right direction”.
“The announcements made before the election indicated that the Labor government had proposed to simply add ‘VIP lounge’ to the list of banned terms,” he said. “This would only spur on some new creative phrase to refer to the rooms. (Why do you think we call them ‘VIP rooms’ or ‘players lounges’ in the first place?) Banning the notion of referencing the gaming room altogether really solves this problem, so I’m happy to see that is the approach.”
Thorpe concluded that the strong move was a positive step towards a future where gaming machines in NSW pubs are a thing of the past. “The writing is on the wall. It’s now a matter of when.”