In recent years, the number of reports about Australian poker machines having bad outcomes has steadily increased. On-going debates in the media and among politicians continue to question whether the risk of playing these machines is actually any worse than simply sitting at home and watching television. Should players be reluctant about playing such gambling devices? Should the government be worried about the potential for addiction to these machines?
The answer to both of these questions is “yes”. The Department of the Premier and Cabinet Secretary James Packer met with representatives from the Australian National Lottery Commission, electronic gaming companies including Playtech, and the Australian Hotel and Motel Industry on the topic of electronic gambling in March 2021. After several hours of negotiation, the MGC was able to finalize regulations that will hopefully curb the spread of infection among patrons of licensed establishments. Australian poker machines are noted as possibly leading the way for other countries to follow. Down Under, poker players have long complained about the adverse consequences of not being able to fully enjoy their favorite past-time.
In response, the MGC is considering additional measures that could close down existing licensed establishments that do not meet the requirements of the current shutdown laws. For now, they have tentatively decided to implement mandatory background checks on all personnel who will be allowed to work around Australian poker machines. These potential measures are designed to reduce the risk of an accident taking place when hands are exchanged by casino patrons. In the past, patrons have become injured and even killed while playing poker machines, and this has prompted many jurisdictions throughout the United States and Canada to institute similar mandatory background check statutes.
The MGC has also notified all licensed establishments in the country that will be forced to close their bars and casinos if they fail to meet the new lockout laws. This includes all location within the state of Victoria, and all establishment in the surrounding region of Barangay. According to Barry said, the new measure is a necessary deterrent against people becoming too familiar with the new Australian poker machines. As the owner of a casino facility, he cannot allow patrons and especially students to freely enter the building if they do not have a valid gaming license. Otherwise, they may gain access to areas where there is no drinking age stipulation.
Barring the implementation of facial recognition technology in the near future, he does not foresee a major problem with unruly patrons gaining access to restricted areas. Barry also anticipates the use of security guards to prevent underage drinkers from entering premises. He added that other measures like video surveillance will be implemented to deter other crimes which are commonly committed by players who frequent licensed gaming venues. The changes in the lockouts at all machines, and the increasing penalties for the various offenses, are just a few of the measures that will soon be enforced.
The closure of the River Walk gaming area may have given pub owners and operators an opportunity to reconsider their moves. With the closure, the chances of becoming a victim of crime in this heavily populated area were greatly increased. The lack of law enforcement officers, as well as the presence of a military base nearby might have given pub owners the impression that they have missed an excellent opportunity. The introduction of facial recognition software, which will soon be integrated in all Australian poker machines should give pubs and gaming rooms another chance to turn things around for the better.