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Queensland Parliament Passes New Laws Restricting Cash Gambling at Casinos

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The Queensland Parliament has passed new laws restricting cash gambling at casinos. New laws will increase regulatory scrutiny and enhance the integrity of Queensland casinos, with a focus on reducing gambling harm.

The reforms enable the government to implement the remaining recommendations of the Review of the Queensland operations of The Star Entertainment Group by the Honourable Robert Gotterson AO KC.

It marks the second raft of substantial legislative changes to the Casino Control Act 1982 in the past two years.

Under the legislation, casinos will be required to:

  • implement mandatory carded play for certain games and activities, with restrictions on the use of cash, as well as mandatory pre-commitment, with time limits and enforced player breaks
  • issue player cards and collect information relating to play and provide certain de-identified data to the regulator
  • comply with an enforceable code of conduct to be defined in a regulation
  • pay a supervision levy to the government to cover the costs of casino regulation and to fund harm minimisation programs
  • take steps to exclude people who are banned from interstate casinos by an interstate police commissioner.

The legislation increases regulatory scrutiny, requiring Queensland casinos to undergo a periodic review of their operations and suitability at least every five years. Certain outdated and potentially stigmatising language was also removed from the legislation.

The reforms also enhance and modernise casino inspectorate powers, by updating the way inspectors may request information and allowing them to interview minors and excluded persons on casino premises (if the minor or excluded person is found on the premises).

The new laws represent the second set of substantial reforms to the Casino Control Act in the past two years.

Previous reforms implemented by the government in 2022 removed barriers to disciplinary action and ensure that meaningful penalties could be levelled against casinos where warranted.

The earlier reforms, which allowed government to fine casino entities up to $100 million and appoint a special manager to oversee their operations, were key in disciplinary action taken against The Star Entertainment Group in December 2022.

Quotes attributable to the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Yvette D’Ath:

“Queenslanders have the right to expect casinos are being operated lawfully and in a way that minimises harm.

“The new laws will help ensure Queensland casinos operate with integrity and that they have measures in place to prevent gambling harm and combat money laundering.

“Importantly, these reforms pave the way to implementing the remaining recommendations of the Gotterson Review, with the government now focused on developing the regulations required to enforce these reforms.”

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Australia

SkyCity Appoints Jason Walbridge as Chief Executive Officer

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SkyCity Entertainment Group Limited has appointed Jason Walbridge as its new Chief Executive Officer.

Jason has more than two decades of senior executive public company experience in the global land-based and online gaming industries. He is currently a Strategic Advisor to global gaming and technology company Aristocrat Leisure Limited on its proposed acquisition of NeoGames S.A, and Executive Chairman of National Entertainment Network LLC, the largest amusement route operator in the US. He has been appointed to the role after an extensive international search.

SkyCity Board Chair Julian Cook said: “The Board is delighted to announce Jason’s appointment as CEO of SkyCity, and we are looking forward to the valuable contribution Jason will make to the business. Jason has extensive global experience in the land-based and online gaming industries, which will position him well to lead SkyCity through its next phases.”

Mr Walbridge said: “It will be a privilege to lead SkyCity, and I am excited to be joining the business at this time as SkyCity looks to pursue the many opportunities ahead of it.”

Mr Walbridge is expected to start in early July 2024, following his move back to New Zealand.

Prior to his current roles, Mr Walbridge held roles with the online gaming supplier NYX Gaming Group Limited and its acquirer Light & Wonder Inc, and before that he spent 18 years with Aristocrat Leisure Limited where he held executive leadership roles in New Zealand and the US. Previously, he held senior roles within consulting, including with Ernst & Young, and was an Officer in the New Zealand Defence Force. Mr Walbridge holds an MBA in International Management from the Auckland Institute of Studies.

Mr Cook confirmed that Callum Mallett will continue as Interim Chief Executive Officer until Mr Walbridge’s commencement date.

“I’d like to thank Callum for his continued leadership and his support during this period,” Mr Cook said.

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Australia

VGCCC Fines BlueBet AU$50,000 for Gambling Advertising Breaches

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BlueBet has been fined AU$50,000 by the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) for breaching gambling advertising regulations.

The company was found guilty of 43 charges related to displaying gambling advertisements on or above public roads, contravening the Gambling Regulation Act 2003.

The charges stemmed from an investigation initiated by VGCCC, following a complaint from a member of the public. The breaches occurred over a two-week period in August and September 2022, with BlueBet’s gambling advertisements appearing on digital billboards at various locations, including Point Cook, Laverton, Rockbank and Ravenhall.

Magistrate Greg Thomas, overseeing the case, expressed scepticism about BlueBet’s defence that it was unaware of the breaches, given the strategic placement of the billboards to target males aged 15-54 years old. While no conviction was recorded, Magistrate Thomas noted the high degree of negligence exhibited by BlueBet.

VGCCC CEO Annette Kimmitt AM said: “Gambling advertising has no place on public roads where it is readily visible to children and other vulnerable groups. These places are especially difficult to avoid as part of day-to-day activities. This decision sends a clear message to wagering providers that flout these protections for our community.”

Although Magistrate Thomas considered imposing a higher fine and recording a conviction, he took into account BlueBet’s guilty plea, cooperation with VGCCC and measures taken to prevent future breaches. BlueBet has implemented changes to prevent similar incidents and has cooperated with VGCCC throughout the process.

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Australia

VGCCC Introduces New Rules for Wagering Account Statements

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The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) has introduced new standards for how activity statements should be presented to wagering account holders. The new standards require providers to use plain English and avoid unnecessary vocabulary. The use of colours is limited to black and red to represent losses.

The VGCCC took the measure after finding inconsistencies in the way information was displayed on sample activity statements across different providers. Account holders must be able to see how much of their own money they have lost, with free and bonus bets excluded from the net loss figures. Net wins must be shown with stakes deducted. The gambling harm taglines that appear at the end of wagering ads must be displayed on each statement.

The new standards came into force on April 1. Failure to comply could result in a penalty of 60 penalty units, equivalent to AU$11,538.60 for each non-compliant activity statement issued.

VGCCC CEO Annette Kimmitt AM said: “The days of inconsistent player activity statements are over. Wagering account holders will be better informed about their spending – and therefore better equipped to make informed decisions about their gambling – thanks to the clarity and fairness these changes bring.”

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