The NSW state government will give pubs and clubs until 1 September 2023 to remove or conceal any external signage that indicates the presence of poker machines inside the venue.
Coming just weeks after introducing legislation to ban clubs with poker machines from providing political donations, the state government said it will officially notify pubs and clubs this week that they have a little over three months to make the change, described as a key election commitment to reduce problem gambling.
Venues that cannot make the change by 1 September for demonstrable reasons outside of their own control will be given an additional three months, after which time a “zero tolerance” approach will be adopted. Any venues found breaching the new code will be liable for fines of up to AU$11,000 (US$7,300) per offence.
The ban will include names such as VIP Room, VIP Lounge, Golden Room, Players’ Lounge and more – all terms typically used to reference the presence of poker machines – plus imagery such as dragons, coins or lightning motifs.
“The NSW government is committed to introducing important gambling harm-minimization measures,” said Minister for Gaming and Racing, David Harris.
“The façades of pubs and clubs across the state are littered with signs such as ‘VIP lounge’ to alert those walking or driving by that they have gaming machines.
“Some of these signs are extremely prominent, can be seen by children and members of the community who are at risk of gambling harm.
“While there are already laws in place that prohibit gaming related signage, venue operators have circumvented these by advertising ‘VIP Lounges’. We are putting an end to this loophole for the health and wellbeing of our communities.”