Queensland introduces cash limits and casino penalties in sweeping changes prompted by Star Entertainment report

Queensland introduces cash limits and casino penalties in sweeping changes prompted by Star Entertainment report
Queensland introduces cash limits and casino penalties in sweeping changes prompted by Star Entertainment report

Identity verification, cash limits and a compulsory code of conduct for “safer gambling” are among sweeping reforms to Queensland casinos, passed this week. 

The changes were recommendations from an independent 2022 review into the Star Entertainment Group, which found “major failings” in its Queensland operations.

The company was hit with $100 million in fines and was told by then-attorney-general Shannon Fentiman to “get its house in order” or else have its Queensland casino licences temporarily suspended.

Queensland parliament passed the new laws on Wednesday, aimed at restoring public confidence in the sector, enhancing integrity and minimising the potential for gambling harm at casinos.

What’s changed for gamblers?

Mandatory carded play will require patrons to swipe or tap a card before they can gamble, even if playing with cash.

Players will need to verify their identity and age before being granted a card.

One person cannot hold multiple player cards.

Star Entertainment said it was “committed to the safety and welfare” of its guests.(ABC News: Steve Keen)

Cash transactions will be limited to less than $1,000, and there’ll be a limit on the amount that can be drawn over 24 hours, bringing Queensland into line with New South Wales and Victoria.

Gamblers will be required to set limits for how long they play, how much they spend and lose, and will no longer be able to play when they reach any of these benchmarks.

The measures are designed to track gambling patterns and data, highlighting players at risk of harm.

Further, it’s hoped this will reduce the opportunities for money laundering.

An older man sits smiling at the camera.

Tim Costello from Alliance for Gambling Reform said setting limits before starting play made a difference.(ABC News: Jeremy Story Carter)

Tim Costello, chief advocate for the Alliance for Gambling Reform, said gambling limits were a game changer.

“Every study shows that the person who gets in trouble with gambling, if they set their limits, money and time before they’re in front of that mesmerising machine, actually set much more sensible limits,” he said.

“Once they’re in the zone — that hypnotic zone — they lose all track of time and they lose all their money.”

What about casinos?

Casino operators will be required to identify and exclude people who have been banned from interstate casinos.

This follows the review, which found Star had encouraged people excluded from NSW and Victorian casinos to gamble in Queensland. 

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  • Operators will also be required to collect and share player card data, including player losses and wins, products played and how long they play. 

    This aims to improve proper supervision of casino activities, promote safer gambling, and inform anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism strategies.

    Casinos aren’t allowed to send gambling promotions to players unless they have consented to receiving them, and consenting to advertising can’t be a condition to register for a player card.

    Mr Costello wasn’t convinced casinos were up to the task.

    Treasury Casino building and traffic on South East freeway in Brisbane at sunset.

    Former attorney-general Shannon Fentiman told Star to “get its house in order” or else have its Queensland casino licences temporarily suspended.(ABC News: Chris Gillette)

    “They’re going to have to be watched like a hawk by the regulator,” he said. 

    “The whole commercial model for casinos is dependent on people who are addicted.”

    Casinos will also be required to pay an annual levy, which will be used to fund the regulation of the sector and programs aimed at reducing gambling harm. 

    More responsibility will be put on high-level executives to make sure casinos are compliant, and those found to breach the laws could face fines and jail time.

    Casinos will also face fines of tens of thousands of dollars for each breach. 

    Language change vital to minimise harm

    Legislation has also been updated to replace the terms “responsible gambling” and “problem gamblers” with more suitable wording — to reduce stigma.

    Helen Poynton from Relationships Australia Queensland said it “couldn’t be overstated” how important that change was.

    “When we talk about responsible gambling, we’re blaming that gambler, and that just increases the shame and increases the isolation,” she said. 

    “We now work in a public health model, where it’s all about harm minimisation because we’re talking about a safer provision of gambling, and that is taking away the blame on the individual and saying this is a community effort to minimise gambling-related harm.”

    Star Entertainment said it was “committed to the safety and welfare of our guests and becoming a better company operating with the highest levels of integrity”.

    “On the recommendation of the Gotterson Review, The Star has implemented positive reforms relating to harm minimisation such as Time Play management, an increase in safer gambling team members and training, and has a Queensland-approved remediation plan in place,” the group said.

    “The Star announced a cashless and carded play trial in NSW on February 22 and is in communication with the OLGR (Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation) in Queensland about similar [measures].”

    Source: abc.net.au

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