Upcoming Liquor Licensing Reforms in NSW
In a recent announcement by Deputy Premier of NSW Troy Grant, the State’s Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) is to undergo a major organisational change and implement the access of new merit-based appeals related to licencing decisions.
The reforms are in response to the stated need to support the tough restrictions introduced by the NSW Government on licenced premises including 10pm bottle shop closures, liquor licence freeze and lockout laws of the Sydney CBD Entertainment Precinct and harsher responsible service of alcohol requirements and penalties.
Surry Partners has summarised some of the key reforms which will come into effect as follows:
- The current regulator, Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing (OLGR) will be replaced by Liquor and Gaming NSW. Liquor and Gaming NSW will undertake the majority of routine liquor and gaming compliance, disciplinary and licensing functions currently handled by the ILGA. The ILGA will remain an independent board and will focus on perceived high-risk applications such as new bottle shops and nightclubs. All gaming machine rights and casino licencing decisions will remain with the ILGA.
- Currently, the only avenue to appeal a decision made by the ILGA is through the Supreme Court. Under the changes, community members, licensees and proposed licensees will be able to appeal Liquor and Gaming NSW decisions to the ILGA and ILGA’s decisions can be appealed to the NSW Civil Administrative Tribunal.
- Under the reforms, there is to be a new governance structure for the State’s racing industry making it a standalone function within the Justice Department.
The Government believes that members of the NSW liquor and gambling industry are likely to benefit the most from the reforms. The access to low-costs appeals is proposed to give those affected by liquor licence decisions a greater say, presumably by facilitating a lower cost access to the system.
The changes are also aimed at increasing compliance capacity and clearing the ‘bottleneck’ of licence applications which currently take a long time to resolve.
The reforms are expected to be implemented over the next six months.
We will keep you informed of further developments in this regard.
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 Troy Grant, NSW Government, ‘Stronger Compliance, Better Community Access Under Liquor and Gaming Reform’ (Media Alert, 10 October 2015).