A pub wanted more gambling after midnight. The regulator has now tightened the rules

A publican’s attempt to concentrate his poker machines in hotels with extended trading hours has prompted the regulator to tighten statewide rules governing late-night gambling.

The Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority has revised its guidelines for applications that involve late-night gambling to state they were unlikely to be approved without conditions attached, considering the growing body of evidence that people who gambled after midnight did so more intensely and were more likely to have addictions.

Research shows that harmful gambling is more likely after midnight.Credit: Virginia Star

ILGA chairperson Caroline Lamb said the authority wanted to show operators it had the power to place additional conditions on licences to prevent or reduce gambling harm and could do so whether or not a venue had made an application for more machines or extended trading hours.

The authority had observed an increase in the number of operators attempting to concentrate their poker machines at venues that traded after midnight.

“Late night trading is pretty profitable for licensees, not always, but it can be very profitable,” Lamb said.

“From a commercial point of view, where an opportunity exists for somebody to transfer pokies from a less profitable venue to a more profitable venue, it makes commercial sense.

“When we look at the increasing body of evidence of the association between late-night gaming and gaming-related harm, ILGA is generally concerned about applications which, if approved, would result in significantly increased access to post-midnight gaming.”

It follows a decision by the NSW Court of Appeal confirming the authority had discretion to take harm minimisation into account when deciding whether venues could increase their poker machine numbers.


Guyra grazier and pub baron Jim Knox had sought to increase the gaming machine threshold at the Whitebull Hotel in Armidale and the Area Hotel in Griffith and to transfer a gaming machine entitlement to the Gemini Hotel in Griffith from another pub in his portfolio with shorter trading hours. The Whitebull and Area Hotel were licensed to trade until 2am, while the Gemini was licensed to trade after 2am six days a week.

ILGA had approved the applications on the conditions that they employ a responsible gambling officer and maintain a register of gambling related harm, which Knox successfully argued in the NSW Supreme Court the authority did not have the power to impose. But the NSW Court of Appeal overturned that decision in September.

The Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority said an increased number of operators were attempting to concentrate their poker machines at venues that traded after midnight.

The Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority said an increased number of operators were attempting to concentrate their poker machines at venues that traded after midnight.Credit: Flavio Brancaleone

“The authority is required … to have due regard to the need to ensure that the operation of licensed hotels and clubs does not detract from the amenity of community life,” the court ruled. “Social harm from the operation of gaming machines could detract from that amenity.”

Knox has not re-applied to increase his poker machines since the judgment was returned. He declined to comment on Wednesday.

ILGA cited the judgment in the revised guidelines released on Thursday, along with research that showed serious risks associated with late night gambling.

Statistical risk modelling by Roy Morgan Research last year showed late night poker machine users gambled more frequently (mostly at pubs) and needed to gamble with larger amounts to get the same level of excitement. The later into the early hours of the morning that they gambled, the higher the risk of “problem gambling”.

The authority’s revised guidelines relate to applications for extended trading by venues that operate poker machines, applications to increase the poker machine threshold for venues that already have extended trading hours and applications to increase or change a venue’s gambling shutdown period.

Conditions restricting the hours of play applied to all machines at the venue.

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Source: smh.com.au

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