The Australian Capital Territory’s (ACT) Gambling and Racing Commission recently revealed that instances of gambling law breaches have been reduced by 88% over the past four years. The regulatory board suggested that the decline may have come as result of an increase in focus on gambling-harm awareness initiatives as opposed to penalising offenders with fines.
The decline comes despite the fact that there has been an increased number of inspections over the past two years. For the 2017/18 period, only 13 gambling-related infractions were recorded, and if the year-on-year trend continues, this number may drop by 50% over the next recorded year. The number of gambling-related infractions recorded in 2016/17 were at 70.
Reduction in Gambling Offences Attributed to Harm Initiatives
As previously mentioned, the ACT Gambling and Racing Commission strongly believe that the reduced number of gambling law breaches come as a result of gambling harm initiatives. It is hard to argue against this idea when the fact that the territory has seen over 600 gambling harm or awareness activities and programmes launched just in 2018.
However, this was not to say that there were no fines dealt over the period that may have aided in getting gambling operators in line. The ACT Gambling and Racing Commission issued three enforcement actions over the course of the year – one of which included a fine for AU$120 000 to Raiders Club. The fine was issued after it had been found that the establishment failed to institute measures to prevent problem gamblers from spending excessive amounts of money. One customer had spent over AU$200 000 on pokie machines offered at the venue.
It is important to note though, that after Raiders Club appealed against the action, the penalty was changed to donating AU$60 000 to Australia’s primary 24-hour suicide hotline Lifeline.
There were other fines dealt out to other establishments, but the trend seems pretty clear: gambling regulation breaches are dropping in the ACT.