Thursday, 19 October 2023


Gambling Legislation Amendment Bill 2023

Jaclyn SYMES, Georgie CROZIER

Gambling Legislation Amendment Bill 2023

Introduction and first reading

The PRESIDENT (18:15): I have a further message from the Assembly:

The Legislative Assembly presents for the agreement of the Legislative Council ‘A Bill for an Act to amend the Casino Control Act 1991, the Casino (Management Agreement) Act 1993 and the Gambling Regulation Act 2003 and for other purposes’.

Jaclyn SYMES (Northern Victoria – Attorney-General, Minister for Emergency Services) (18:15): I move:

That the bill be now read a first time.

Motion agreed to.

Read first time.

Jaclyn SYMES: I move, by leave:

That the second reading be taken forthwith.

Motion agreed to.

Statement of compatibility

Jaclyn SYMES (Northern Victoria – Attorney-General, Minister for Emergency Services) (18:15): I lay on the table a statement of compatibility with the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006:

Opening paragraphs

In accordance with section 28 of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006, (the Charter), I make this Statement of Compatibility with respect to the Gambling Legislation Amendment Bill 2023 (the Bill).

In my opinion, the Gambling Legislation Amendment Bill 2023, as introduced to the Legislative Council, is compatible with human rights protected by the Charter. I base my opinion on the reasons outlined in this statement.


The Bill amends the Casino Control Act 1991, the Casino (Management Agreement) Act 1993 and the Gambling Regulation Act 2003.

It will deliver gambling harm reforms and improve the implementation of recommendations from the Royal Commission into the Casino Operator and Licence (the Royal Commission).

Human Rights Issues

The human rights protected by the Charter that are relevant to the Bill are:

• privacy and reputation (section 13);

• right to property (section 20); and

• right to presumption of innocence (section 25(1)).

Section 13 –Privacy and reputation

Section 13 of the Charter provides that every person has the right not to have their privacy, family, home or correspondence unlawfully or arbitrarily interfered with.

Clause 7 of the Bill engages this right by requiring a person to have their identify verified before the casino operator may pay out winnings over $1000. The regulations set out processes for verification of identity and the collection, storage and use of information provided by players. Improved identification was a recommendation of the Royal Commission and is intended to address money laundering through the casino.

If an interference with the right to privacy is lawful and not arbitrary, it does not come within the scope of section 13. In this case, the requirement for identification will be required by law and is not arbitrary as it will apply to all patrons at the casino. The information will only be collected in accordance with the law following the prescribed requirements. Therefore, this clause does not limit the right to privacy in section 13.

Section 20 –Property rights

Section 20 of the Charter provides that a person must not be deprived of their property other than in accordance with the law. This means that where a limitation is prescribed by law, there is no need to demonstrate that it is ‘reasonable’ and ‘demonstrably justified’. A deprivation of property will only contravene the Charter right where it is done unlawfully. The term ‘property’ is not defined in the Charter but can include both real and personal property including land, shares, leases and other rights and interests.

Clause 4 of the Bill appears to engage the right to property because it increases the powers the statutory manager has over casino property.

New section 22I provides the manager with priority over the casino operator in the receipt of net earnings while new section 22L restricts the ability of a third party to enforce rights in relation to managed property, including the ability to terminate or exercise rights adverse to the casino operator in relation to particular classes of contract. Finally, new section 22M provides for managed property to be vested in the manager before the appointment of an external administrator, depriving a liquidator or administrator from accessing the property.

The third parties contemplated by these amendments are unlikely to be natural persons. To the extent that the provisions might restrict a natural person from enforcing their interests or otherwise restrict their rights with respect to their property, these provisions may be regarded as a limitation on that person’s property rights.

Clause 4 is aimed at strengthening the statutory manager regime to ensure casino operations are not disrupted by possible licence surrender, suspension or cancellation. It is designed to make the statutory management scheme more workable. While the amendment might impact upon a natural person in very limited circumstances, as the restriction is lawful, there is no breach of the Charter.

Section 25(1) –The right to be presumed innocent

Section 25(1) of the Charter provides that a person charged with a criminal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law. Any new offence that includes an exception, exemption, excuse or other defence may affect rights under section 25(1).

Clause 4, at new section 22K(2), inserts an offence provision creating an obligation on officers of the casino operator to facilitate the conduct of casino operations and provide the manager with access to the casino premises. While this offence captures natural persons, as it does not include an exemption or defence it does not engage the Charter.

For the reasons set out above, I consider that the Bill is consistent with the Charter.

Hon Lizzie Blandthorn MP

Minister for Children

Minister for Disability

Second reading

Jaclyn SYMES (Northern Victoria – Attorney-General, Minister for Emergency Services) (18:15): I move:

That the bill be now read a second time.

Ordered that second-reading speech be incorporated into Hansard:

On 16 July 2023, the former Premier and I announced Australia’s most significant package of gambling reforms. These reforms were focused on improving the consumer protections afforded to the many Victorians that gamble, with a specific focus on helping those who experience harm.

Our reforms include:

• mandatory closure periods for gaming machine areas outside of the casino,

• a reduction in load up limits on gaming machines from $1000 to $100, an increase in spin rates to slow the rate of play on new gaming machines, reducing the speed at which money can be lost or laundered, and

• state-wide mandatory pre-commitment and carded play, putting the power in the hands of patrons through an important safeguard to prevent people spending outside their limits, and stopping money laundering in its tracks.

Today, we introduce legislation to deliver on the first of these reforms. This legislation will make sure that all electronic gaming venues outside the casino are closed between 4:00am – 10:00am. There will be no more staging of closing hours, providing people with an important break in play.

The government is currently consulting with stakeholders, including harm reduction stakeholders, academics, law enforcement and industry to make sure these reforms are as effective as possible.

We need to make sure we get this right, and they are delivered as quickly and effectively as possible and I look forward to providing more information about the next stages of these reforms soon.

The announcement follows the introduction of some of the strongest casino laws in the world which implemented recommendations from the Royal Commission into the Casino Operator and Licence.

The reforms coming out of the Royal Commission were complex and we knew that work would continue beyond the major legislation I introduced last year.

The Bill will enhance the workings of the Casino Control Act 1991 to strengthen the role of a statutory manager in the event the casino licence is cancelled or the operator becomes insolvent – removing any potential impediments of the gambling regulator in the upcoming decision on the suitability of the casino operator.

Finally, it makes technical amendments to the payment of winnings and to provisions governing the casino operator’s liability for network outages.

I now turn to the provisions of the Bill before the House, which marks the beginning of a significant package of gambling reforms and the continuation of the important work of implementing Royal Commission reforms.

Minimising gambling harm in Victoria by extending and standardising closing periods

While the law requires venue operators to provide no more than 20 hours of gaming each day, we have seen that some gaming operators have been staggering their opening hours to allow patrons to move between venues in one area and continue gambling.

Research shows that gambling late at night is strongly associated with gambling harm. Having a break from gambling is an important gambling harm reduction measure, as bringing a person ‘out of the zone’ increases their awareness of the decisions they are making.

The Bill will address this practice by extending the time that venues must be closed for an extra two hours and standardising the hours they must be shut. It will prohibit gaming venues from operating between 4:00am and 10:00am and introduce penalties for those gaming operators who break the law.

Extending contingency offences to interstate gaming providers

While the Minister currently has powers to ban betting on contingencies with a wagering service provider, offences relating to the ban are limited to activities in Victoria. This prevents the prohibition from being enforced in relation to interstate activities.

Legal advice provided to my department has revealed that the Minister’s powers to prohibit contingencies are limited in their application to providers located interstate. When wagering service providers located interstate are happy to offer bets on minors and amateur sports, we can see that there is a clear need for the Minister’s powers to extend to these entities.

The Bill will extend the offence provision to capture things that take place outside of Victoria. This will allow the Minister to respond to betting contingencies that are not in the public interest, even if they are offered interstate.

This legislative change will ensure inappropriate betting practices are not offered to Victorians, and will give the Minister the appropriate powers to respond to emerging practices in the wagering industry.

Cleaning up complex legislation to make sure the regulator is not impeded in any decisions on casino suitability

The Royal Commission into the Casino Operator and Licence outlined shocking behaviour from Crown Melbourne. The government moved swiftly to implement the 33 recommendations of the Royal Commission.

The work has not stopped there, and as we move towards the gambling regulator’s decision on the suitability of the operator, we need to ensure they are unimpeded in their ability to make their decision.

I want to be very clear that this does not indicate the likelihood of a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ decision. The independent gambling regulator will make this decision by themselves.

The Bill will ensure the casino is able to keep operating in the event that the licence is cancelled, suspended or surrendered.

It includes provisions that:

• vest managed property in the manager to facilitate operations following the appointment of external administrators,

• protect the manager from third parties who might enforce a security interest over managed property,

• protect the manager from exposure to legal action and personal liability,

• allow the manager to be paid out of net earnings before the casino operator, and

• provide the manager with access to shared services across the casino complex.

Clarifying payment of winnings provisions

As Members would be aware, the Royal Commission uncovered significant failures by the casino operator to address money laundering and other forms of financial crime. Amendments passed last year restricted the payment of cash winnings to a maximum of $1,000 in a 24-hour period.

To improve the workings of these reforms, the Bill will amend the payment of winnings provisions to allow them to commence following the introduction of carded play on all games at the casino, including table games.

This will ensure the casino has time to implement the world-leading technology required to track cash across the whole gaming floor.

These amendments align with the intent of existing legislation, and make clarifications to ensure they are implemented in the most effective and efficient way.

Managing downtime

From December 2023, any person who plays a gaming machine at the casino will be required to track their play using the pre-commitment system, YourPlay.

Recent reforms introduced significant penalties for where the casino operator fails to implement mandatory pre-commitment framework.

As we have moved towards the soon to commence start date, we have found there is a need to update the existing framework to account for ‘downtime’, when technical outages occur in the system which are outside the casino operator’s control.

The Bill will ensure that the casino is not unfairly impacted in the occurrence of a period of downtime that is outside their control.

This would be enabled through a Ministerial Direction, which will provide directions around when such periods may be approved to ensure the framework only applies in limited circumstances.

This is not a reform, rather an administrative fix that needs to be addressed in the new legislative environment.


This legislation is a first step at implementing our recently announced major gambling agenda, as well as making amendments to ensure the gambling regulator is unimpeded in making its upcoming decision about the suitability of Crown to operator the Melbourne Casino – enabling the implementation of the major casino reforms.

Although a significant step, there is more to come – the coming years will be big for gambling reform in Victoria.

This government is serious about addressing gambling harm and I look forward to working with Members, harm reduction stakeholder, people with lived experience and industry as we progress our gambling reforms.

I commend the Bill to the house.

Georgie CROZIER (Southern Metropolitan) (18:16): I move, on behalf of my colleague Mr Mulholland:

That debate on this bill be adjourned for one week.

Motion agreed to and debate adjourned for one week.