A new regulator – liquor and gaming NSW

A major restructure of the New South Wales liquor and gaming regulators should result in greater efficiency and improved services for clubs and hotels across the state.

Late last year the NSW Government announced major reforms to regulation of liquor and gaming in New South Wales designed to increase compliance capacity, clear bottlenecks, improve efficiency and remove confusion in the current system.

Prior to the reforms, there were two separate government agencies responsible for the regulation of liquor and gaming in NSW. The Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR) was responsible for policy, compliance and enforcement, while the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) dealt with licensing matters. Clubs and hotels often struggled to understand the division of responsibilities between the two agencies, particularly when it came to developing policy.

In theory, the OLGR was responsible for setting the liquor and gaming policy framework. Whereas, the ILGA was designed to be an independent and impartial umpire when it came to applying a policy framework to individual licensing applications. A new regulator, Liquor and Gaming NSW, has replaced the former Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing and the functions of the ILGA have been streamlined. The new Regulator will now take on responsibility for the processing of routine licensing applications, in addition to its policy and compliance functions.

The ILGA’s focus will shift to determining high-risk licence applications such as new bottle shops, nightclubs and gaming machine entitlement decisions. The Minister is also able to impose maximum time-frames on application processing. For example, the Minister has directed that gaming machine threshold applications are to be determined within 120 days of the submission period for the application closing.

The last important part of the reform for clubs and hotels is the creation of a low-cost appeal mechanism. For applications lodged from 1 March 2016, clubs and hotels can seek a merits-based review by the New South Wales Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) of certain ILGA licensing decisions.

Clubs and hotels often struggled to understand the division of responsibilities between the two agencies, particularly when it came to developing policy.

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