The Liquor & Gaming New South Wales (L&GNSW) has launched the third and final phase of its compliance program aimed at cracking down on the banned display of gambling-related signage in the state. As part of this initiative, the regulatory body has taken enforcement actions against two venues, the Royal Hotel at Granville and Stardust Hotel at Cabramatta, for illegal gambling signage. Inspectors found that the Royal Hotel was using cartoon imagery similar to that used in an electronic gaming machine called Choy’s Kingdom to advertise its restaurant, Mr Choy’s Wok. The hotel was issued a statutory direction to remove or change the imagery as per Section 75 of the Liquor Act, and they complied but also applied for a review from the Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority.

Similarly, the Stardust Hotel at Cabramatta was found to have a digital archway displaying animations resembling those in the Panda Magic electronic gaming machine. They were also issued a statutory direction to remove the archway, which they did successfully.

These enforcement actions come as part of the “zero-tolerance approach” that went into effect in September, with L&GNSW inspectors visiting over 1,200 venues across 53 local government areas, including 19 regional areas representing over 55% of the state’s gaming machine venues. The inspection revealed a 99% compliance rate for external signage related to gaming, signaling that the operators should have a full understanding of the requirements and should have removed all illegal signage.

According to the minister for gaming and racing, David Harris, the removal of banned signage is crucial in fulfilling the commitment to gambling reform aimed at reducing gambling harm and tackling money laundering. Operators who breach the Gaming Machines Act and fail to remove illegal signs may face a maximum penalty of $11,000 per offense, while venues that do not comply with statutory directions issued under the Liquor Act may also face an offense with the same maximum penalty and disciplinary action.

Harris warned that any attempts to use symbols, animations, or characters popularly connected to gambling franchises or poker machines to circumvent the ban will be met with an escalated enforcement response. The ban applies to both external and internal signage that can be easily noticed while standing outside a venue. Additionally, in June, the regulator reiterated the ban on credit card ATMs at brick-and-mortar gambling venues to restrict problem or at-risk gambling.

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