The NSW Parliament has passed a major package of reforms that represent a significant change to gaming regulation in NSW. The reforms include an overhaul of the Local Impact Assessment (LIA) scheme that regulates gaming machine movements, a new leasing scheme and a cap on the number of gaming machines in higher-risk communities.

The new laws provide for more focused LIA assessments based on Australian Bureau of Statistics areas, commonly referred to as SA2’s, not Local Government Areas. These SA2s are much smaller with around 10,000 people in each statistical area.

The Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority will rank all SA2s into three bands. Similar to the existing arrangements, the ability of Clubs to increase their gaming machine threshold and the steps they need to take apply for a threshold increase will depend on their band classification.

Key highlights of the reforms are:

  • An overhaul of the Local Impact Assessment scheme that regulates gaming machine movements, including capping the number of machines in high-risk communities such as Fairfield
  • More focused LIA assessments using ABS statistical zones, not council areas, and with a stronger emphasis on vulnerable areas
  • Broader community consultation during the LIA process for longer periods
  • Directing LIA community contributions through the Responsible Gambling Fund with a mandate that the money be spent locally
  • A leasing scheme for gaming machines held by small hotels and clubs, providing a new pathway for them to go machine-free
  • Streamlined regulation of clubs and tougher penalties for directors who do the wrong thing
  • A tenfold increase in fines for wagering operators offering illegal inducements
  • Post-employment cooling-off period for senior Liquor & Gaming NSW staff
  • Modernised regulation for casinos that is consistent between venues.