NSW Government to study effectiveness of 2018 poker machine reforms

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The NSW state government has issued a call for community feedback on the impacts of reforms it implemented in 2018 around the use of poker machines in high risk areas.

The reforms, described as the most significant changes to NSW gambling regulation in a decade, included a cap on the number of gaming machines allowed in higher-risk areas and new measures to target potential harms in more localised areas, plus implementation of a leasing scheme for small clubs and hotels to lease, rather than sell, their Gaming Machine Entitlements (GMEs) to other clubs and hotels. The latter initiative was designed to allow operators to go pokies-free while staying economically viable.

In a statement, the state government said Liquor & Gaming NSW was now conducting a formal evaluation of the reforms, including feedback from the public and interested stakeholders, which it says will help shape future policy directions.

These areas were capped three years ago to ensure no additional machines could be moved into these areas, and we want to see how effective they have been in reducing gambling harms, said John Tansey, Executive Director Policy & Strategy for Better Regulation Division.

The NSW Government is keen to hear from the community, so we are conducting a survey to help inform our evaluation. We will also be inviting venue operators with GMEs to complete a separate online survey.

The 96,000 poker machines in NSW represents almost half of the national total, which in itself accounts for almost 20% of the global total.