Loophole allows poker machine betting 24 hours a day

Victoria’s mandatory closing hours circumvented, harm minimisation voided

18 Oct 2022

Mandatory closing hours for poker machine venues – aimed at minimising gambling harm –

are being circumvented with big operators exploiting a loophole to stagger closing times

across multiple venues to ensure gambling continues 24 hours a day, a new policy paper has

revealed.


The policy paper by the Alliance for Gambling Reform to mark Gambling Harm Awareness Week

reveals that Victoria introduced laws designed to curb 24 hour poker machine gambling 18

years ago. These laws require venues to shut for four hours a day.


Yet the laws never specified what times venues had to close, which is allowing big operators to

stagger their closing hours across their venues to allow people to ‘venue hop’ and gamble 24

hours a day.


“Given the enormous harm poker machine losses wreak on our State there is no need for venues to be open into the early hours of the morning. We need to do much more to protect people who are vulnerable, the industry certainly cannot be trusted to act sensibly or compassionately,” the chief advocacy of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, Tim Costello, said.
“Research has shown that even people who gamble on poker machines want their hours restricted.”

The policy paper calls for poker machine venue opening hours to be restricted from midnight to

10am across Victoria and across the nation. In the interim it argues there is an urgent need for

Victoria to impose uniform hours for mandatory closing times in order to close the current

loophole.


The Alliance is a national advocacy organisation which works to prevent and minimize the harm

from gambling. Our aim is to remove the shame that surrounds gambling addiction, have the

problem treated as a public health issue, and achieve the legislative changes needed to protect

our communities. We bring together well over 60 organisations who share the objectives of

preventing harm from gambling.

Media contact: Martin Thomas – 0477 340 704