​Stronger compliance, better community access under liquor gaming reform

Issued: Saturday, 10 October 2015

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The State's liquor regulator will be boosted with extra compliance officers and the community given access to a new merit-based appeal of licensing decisions, to support stronger liquor laws in NSW, Deputy Premier and Minister for Justice and Police Troy Grant announced today.

The reforms are designed to better support the Government’s existing liquor policy by increasing compliance capacity, clearing bottlenecks, removing inefficiencies and resolving community confusion in the current system. 

A new regulator, Liquor and Gaming NSW, will replace the Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing and have its numbers boosted to allow for stronger compliance operations. 

Liquor and Gaming NSW will assume a majority of routine liquor and gaming compliance, disciplinary and licensing functions.

The Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) will remain independent and be refocussed on high-risk licence applications such as new bottle shops or nightclubs. All casino licensing and gaming machine entitlement decisions will also remain with ILGA.

Mr Grant said the reforms are needed to allow greater compliance and enforcement capacity after the NSW Government introduced a range of tough restrictions on licensed venues including lockout laws, 10pm bottle shop closures and stronger penalties for serving minors.

"Liquor laws in NSW have never been tougher, and we need a regulator that is equipped to effectively enforce these laws," Mr Grant said. 

"The new Liquor and Gaming NSW will be given a 20 per cent boost in compliance capacity and have a surge force of up to 100 inspectors when required."

Community members affected by liquor licence decisions will have a far greater say with a new ability to lodge a low-cost appeal.

Community members will be able to appeal Liquor and Gaming NSW decisions to ILGA and ILGA'​s decisions to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal. This will be supported by a new community access team who will be dedicated to providing information and education to the general public. 

"Previously a decision made by ILGA was final, unless you had the financial capacity for a Supreme Court appeal, making it almost impossible for the community's voice to be properly heard," Mr Grant said.

"Also under the new arrangements, the ILGA board will be directed to meet more frequently allowing them to make decisions much quicker, improving certainty for the community."

Under the reforms, racing governance will be made a standalone function within the Justice Department and will continue to be overseen by the Minister for Racing. 

Stakeholders and staff have been briefed about the changes and they will be implemented over the next six months.