From the OLGR

Victoria Thomson
Commissioner, Liquor, Gaming and Fair Trading


Working as one: Queensland Liquor Accords
Since the early 90s, liquor accords have played an important role in bridging the gap between licensees, regulatory bodies and community groups.

This year, Queensland clubs have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We acknowledge the ongoing challenges faced by the industry and the important role accords will continue to play in enabling direct communication between licensees and government representatives.

With the further easing of restrictions, now more than ever, your local accord offers the perfect outlet to gather with your fellow licensees, share information, ask questions and discuss strategies to improve your business. Whether your venue is big or small, a late trader or early closer, being an active member of an accord is a great benefit to you, your staff and the community.

Accords are voluntary agreements between members of a local area who cooperate to develop safe and well-managed environments in and around licensed premises. Accord membership is mainly comprised of local liquor licensees with local and State Government representatives (including OLGR and Queensland Police) attending meetings and providing ongoing support.

There are currently over 70 accords spread throughout Queensland, extending all the way from the great south- east to the Northern Peninsula.

If you’re already a member of an accord, OLGR encourages you to continue holding and attending meetings – in person or virtually.

If you’re not already a part of one, or you don’t know of an accord in your local area, then please contact your local OLGR office for more information. Liquor licensees, OLGR and other key stakeholders can all work together to develop an accord. OLGR provides a wealth of information online about accords, including how to start your own.

Liquor forewarning program
In early November, the OLGR initiated a forewarning compliance program, focusing on the liquor practices and promotions of all licensed venues across the state.

A forewarning program provides licensees with notice of OLGR’s intentions, and the opportunity to review their existing control measures, management plans and venue practices to ensure compliance. Licensees can fix any issues, prior to an inspection taking place.

Patronage in clubs increases during the festive season, along with the promotional packages and new or revised practices designed to attract and keep people in venues. It has been a tough year for everybody and it is important that any liquor promotional activity is undertaken in a way that encourages responsible consumption.

The program will continue throughout the Christmas and new year period, so if you haven’t already, you may soon receive a visit by our compliance officers checking your liquor practices and promotions.

When considering any liquor practice or promotion associated with the service, supply or consumption of liquor you should review Guideline 60 as it provides examples of unacceptable practices and promotions.

It also provides valuable information to assist you in managing practices and promotions that are only acceptable if accompanied by a documented management plan including appropriate harm minimisation measures.

If it is found your venue is engaged in unacceptable practices or promotions, you can expect an on the spot fine of $1,334, and/or a Compliance Notice may be issued, as you have been forewarned of OLGR’s intent.

If you haven’t received OLGR’s notification of the forewarning program, please update your contact details with the OLGR Licencing Unit by emailing olgrlicensing@ justice.qld.gov.au. Alternatively, the OLGR Client Portal is open 24/7 for you to update your contact details at www.business.qld.gov.au/liquor-gaming OLGR wants to keep you and your patrons safe by ensuring you understand your responsibilities. Don’t wait until your inspection to ask OLGR for help. Please get in touch with us if there’s something you aren’t sure about. Contact the OLGR Compliance Unit by email liquorcompliance@justice.qld.gov.au

Targeted responsible gambling inspection campaign
Following the easing of restrictions and recommencement of gaming on licensed premises in July 2020, the OLGR observed a marked increase in gaming machine play. In response, a targeted inspection program was developed which examined the responsible gambling (RG) practices in a sample of venues throughout the state, within the context of the social and environmental impacts of COVID-19.

The program, undertaken throughout September and October 2020, gathered information assisting OLGR to:
  • identify how venues had responded to the re- commencement of gaming since Stage 3 of the roadmap to easing restrictions
  • determine best practice models implemented by venues to address potential harms associated with increased levels of gaming
  • develop responsible gambling themed communications to be shared with all licensees.
Overall, the response from venues was positive and OLGR identified some practices which would benefit all licensees including:
  • licensees working with local Gambling Help service providers to discuss RG practices and identify areas of improvement in the provision of RG within their venue
  • actively increasing staffing levels within gaming areas to correlate with periods of increased gaming activity
  • using High Stakes responsible service of gambling (RSG) training videos to aid gaming staff in developing skills to identify possible problem gambling and assist the individuals and their support networks
  • sending gaming staff to re-complete RSG courses to help revise their knowledge about RSG.
Some areas identified for improvement include:
  • better documentation of venue RG practices to aid training of new and existing staff
  • actively monitoring patrons’ gaming patterns through visual observation and available membership or card- based gaming technology. This will assist venues to more easily identify behaviours, or patterns of behaviours that could indicate a person is at risk of harm from gambling.
  • a broader understanding by venue staff of the indicators of problem gambling behaviour. Not all signs of problem gambling are obvious. Gambling problems can also be more subtle, for example avoiding contact or conversation with others, or appearing anxious while gambling.
The findings from this targeted inspection program, including the valuable insights gained from conversations with participating clubs and their staff, will assist OLGR  as we enhance the responsible gambling elements of our routine machine gaming inspections.

Licensees can also expect to see an increase in responsible gambling related communication  from OLGR through various channels, sharing further tips and reminding you to be more aware and proactive about managing the risk of harm that can be associated with gambling.

Electric shock risks
A recent incident in a Queensland bottle shop has highlighted the need for vigilance around electrical equipment and light fittings.

The Electrical Safety Office (ESO) recently investigated an incident in a bottle shop cold room where a worker received an electric shock. To ensure a safe environment in and around your venue, you are reminded to:
  • ensure workers are aware of the hazards when working near electrical equipment.
  • conduct regular checks on electrical equipment to identify missing or broken parts and have an electrical worker replace them.
It is also important to only engage a licensed electrical contractor when repairing, checking or installing electrical equipment at your venue. This also (and importantly) includes the auditing of all switchboards and installing safety switches on all circuits where possible. Please note a gaming repairer licence is required for individuals installing and repairing electronic gaming machines.

You can check the status of an electrical contractor licence through the Worksafe ESO online licence search.

Under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and the Liquor Act 1992, liquor licensees have an obligation to provide a safe environment for patrons, staff and the areas surrounding their licensed premises.

Guide to Christmas and New Year Trading

Christmas Eve
The sale and supply of alcohol must finish at 12 midnight, regardless of whether you have approved extended trading hours that allow for later trading. Patrons must finish alcoholic drinks by 12.30am on Christmas Day. All gaming machine operations must cease at 12 midnight on Christmas Eve and may not recommence before 10am on Boxing Day.

Christmas Day
You are permitted to sell and supply alcohol between 10am and 12 midnight in conjunction with a meal in a part of the premises that is ordinarily set aside for dining, if the meal is also prepared, served and intended to be eaten  on the premises. Patrons can purchase alcohol for one hour before eating their meal, while they are eating their meal, and for one hour after finishing their meal.

Electronic machine gaming is not to be conducted, as prescribed by the Gaming Machine Regulation 2002.

Takeaway alcohol can’t be sold and adult entertainment venues are prohibited from providing adult entertainment from 12 midnight on Christmas Eve and throughout Christmas Day.

Licensees with accommodation can provide alcohol to in-house accommodation residents and their bona fide guests in their rooms or units only. They may also serve alcohol to patrons eating a meal in the dining area of the premises between 10am and 12 midnight. This means that alcohol may be served to patrons for one hour before dining, during the course of a meal and for one hour after the meal is finished.

Boxing Day
Usual trading hours and conditions resume for liquor, gaming and adult entertainment.

New Year’s Eve
On New Year’s Eve, licensees are permitted to sell or supply alcohol until 2am on New Year’s Day without any need for approval from OLGR. This applies regardless of your regular approved trading hours. This means that the bar must finish serving at 2am, unless the premises is currently approved to trade beyond 2am. Automatic trading to 2am for licensees does not apply to permit holders who can only trade for the times stated in their permit.

Eligible licensees can also apply for an extended trading hours permit on New Year’s Day to trade between 2am and 5am.
 
Save the date: online link opens for excluded persons report
From 1 January 2021, the following link will open to allow you to report your gaming exclusions data for the period 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2020: www.surveymonkey.com/r/exclusions Licensees and nominees are legally required under the Gaming Machine Act 1991 and Gaming Machine Regulation 2002 to complete and submit exclusions data to the Office of Regulatory Policy. The data is used to inform gambling and harm minimisation policy.

Using the above link is quick and easy and does away with the need to fax or mail forms.

Reports are due by January 18, 2021 and you are required to submit a report even if your venue has had no exclusions during the reporting period.

Please phone 3738 8333 or email gamingstatistics@justice.qld.gov.au if you need help completing your report.