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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 8 Hansard (4 August) . . Page.. 3429..


MR QUINLAN (continuing):

cashing of cheques in gaming machine venues, availability of information to patrons on odds of winning and how to contact a problem gambling counselling service as well as restrictions on advertising and promotion.

Mr Speaker, to ensure that the code of practice was achieving its goals the Gambling and Racing Commission undertook, at the time of its introduction, to conduct a review after 12 months of operation. The commission has undertaken that review, including extensive consultation with the industry, stakeholders and the community. The commission has produced a policy paper outlining this review process and providing some 31 recommendations regarding the code's operation. So that members can read the commission's paper for themselves, I have decided to table it along with the amending regulations.

In general terms the commission concluded that the code of practice was operating well and that most licensees were taking their responsibilities very seriously. The commission's recommendations are mostly technical in nature and seek to improve or clarify the original intent of the regulations.

The government has adopted all the commission's recommendations except one. The one recommendation not accepted by government relates to the cashing of cheques by gaming machine licensees. The current regulations provide that cheques can be cashed up to the value of $250 or for a higher amount if arrangements are made on a previous day. The commission recommendation was not to allow cheques for higher amounts to be cashed at all. However, I have had representations from some of the smaller clubs that a few patrons rely on their local club where they are very well known to have their cheques for larger amounts cashed after hours. I think that this original provision in the code of practice is reasonable and should remain unchanged.

As mentioned earlier, the changes provided in these amending regulations are mostly technical in nature. Some provisions are clarified by minor changes or the addition of a definition, while other amendments seek to correct ambiguities or close loopholes to ensure that the intent of the provisions is met.

These amendments will enhance the current harm-minimisation provisions by ensuring that the original intent of the code of practice is more closely followed. This is achieved by clarifying certain provisions and ensuring that gambling activity that may lead to problems for some people is covered by the code of practice.

Currently some gambling activities such as the conduct of housie or the conduct of certain promotions that involve gambling activity can avoid the provisions of the code by exploiting the exemption provision. These amendments that I have tabled today will ensure that all appropriate gambling activity is covered by the provisions of the code as originally intended. In addition, other provisions are proposed to be amended to enhance the practical application of the code such as by redefining "gaming day"in reference to the casino and "winnings"in relation to gaming machines.

The gambling code of practice is a progressive document that is leading the field both nationally and internationally. However, it needs a small tweak to refine its provisions to ensure that it remains the visionary document at the cutting edge of harm minimisation for gamblers in the territory. These amendments provide that proper legislative controls


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