Gaming guideline G13: Gaming machine sites in shopping centres

Gaming Machine Act 1991 - Section 81

The purpose of this guideline is to provide guidance to potential applicants on the Commissioner's attitude regarding approval of gaming machine sites that can be accessed within shopping centres.

Note that these guidelines are not exhaustive. The Commissioner has the legislative ability to require further information from an applicant, subject to the particular circumstances of the case.

Shopping centre definitions

For this guideline, the shopping centre definitions are:

Shopping centre – a cluster of premises where:

  • at least 1 of the premises is a shop
  • the premises are located in 1 building or in 2 or more buildings that are adjoining or are separated only by the grounds of the centre
  • the cluster of premises are promoted as, or generally regarded as constituting, a shopping centre, shopping mall, shopping court or shopping arcade.

Shopping complex – a shop, or shopping centre, together with all parking and other areas adjacent and ancillary to, and intended primarily for the use of persons attending, the shop or shopping centre.

Shop – a shop at which goods or services are retailed to the public.

Applying for a gaming machine site in shopping centres

The Commissioner considers applications for a gaming machine premises that can be accessed from within a shopping centre pose a significant risk to the community.

Similarly, gaming sites that are in close proximity to or are attached to (but not accessible from within) the shopping centre/complex, are also worthy of greater regulatory scrutiny.

'Access from within a shopping centre' means there is no physical barrier between the entrance of the gaming site and the shopping centre or that the site can be accessed without exiting the shopping centre.

'In close proximity to or are attached to the shopping centre' means there is no physical structure (e.g. a car park or a building) or vacant lot of land between the gaming site and the shopping centre. A site that is separated only by a dividing fence or a retaining wall is still considered to be in close proximity or attached to the shopping centre.

Shopping centres, in more recent times, are considered not only a place to purchase goods and services but often act as a venue for social interaction by all age groups. Gaming venues that can be accessed from within a shopping centre have the potential to promote 'convenience gambling' and to normalise gambling for those who are merely shopping or socialising.

Similarly, shopping centres are public locations where problem and at-risk gamblers can meet and connect socially without the temptation of gambling. Placement of gaming machines within shopping centres would undermine the perception of shopping centres being safe places for those who suffer from or are at risk of problem gambling, or would otherwise ordinarily avoid attending premises where gambling is available.

Also, if a gaming site coexists with other goods and services that are typically offered in a shopping centre, it could potentially mean that parents are able to use the shopping centre as a de facto crèche for children while they gamble.

The Commissioner then may be less inclined to approve an application where a gaming site can be accessed from within a shopping centre, unless the applicant can demonstrate that:

  • there is no direct line of sight between the entrance(s) to the shopping centre and the licensed premises
  • no external advertising of the premises' gaming facilities would be able to be viewed from the entrance(s) to the shopping centre or the shopping centre's carpark
  • location of the premises will discourage convenience gambling.

In assessing applications where a gaming site can be accessed from within a shopping centre, the Commissioner is likely to give significant weight to socio-economic data outlined in the accompanying community impact statement and to community concerns, particularly as members of the public do not have a right to seek a review of the Commissioner's decision.

In such circumstances, the responsibility is on the applicant, in the first instance, to propose harm-minimisation measures to address the risks of any problematic socio-economic data identified in the community impact statement, as well as any reasonable concerns from consulted stakeholders.

The Commissioner is less inclined to accept proposed measures that merely address the minimum standards of the Responsible gambling code of practice and would expect that the measures be comprehensive and tailored to address the potential harms identified. To give appropriate effect to any proposed measures, the Commissioner may endorse the measures as licence conditions.

If the applicant is unable to demonstrate to the Commissioner's satisfaction that adequate harm-minimisation measures will be implemented at the premises to minimise potential harm, the Commissioner has the legislative right to impose appropriate licence conditions. Such licence conditions may prescribe, but are not limited to, the following subject matters:

  • pre-commitment technology
  • effective identification of excluded patrons
  • enhanced responsible service of gambling training
  • prohibition of certain service activities such as the service of alcohol at gaming machines
  • greater diligence in the supervision of the gaming area
  • ongoing community engagement requirements.

The Commissioner will assess each application on a case-by-case basis. Any licence conditions will be proportional to the risks presented by each application and the proposed operations intended to be undertaken.

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