Two years ago, the Victorian government imposed a ban on ATMs in poker machine venues. The law was enacted to prevent players from exceeding their gaming budgets and encourage responsible gambling – but one club has found a loophole, and responsible gambling advocates are not pleased. Like all other clubs and pubs in Victoria, the Epping Plaza Hotel has done away with all ATMs on the premises.

However, the venue advertises an alternative cash withdrawal method using ‘hybrid’ cash machines. Players who wish to withdraw additional cash carry out a transaction through the EFTPOS system with a member of staff. Then, they can pick up their cash from an ATM. According to responsible gambling advocates, the venue’s actions defeat the purpose of the ban.

While all venues are still able to offer EFTPOS withdrawals, few actively advertise this service. According to The Age, the advertisements are quite blatant, as neon signs proclaim ‘Cash Out Here’. Tony Parsons, the venue’s gaming coordinator, defends the signs. He states that they are not located on the gaming floor, so they do not violate the terms of the ATM ban.

Several clubs have now picked up on this loophole, and responsible gambling advocates have requested that all types of withdrawals are banned. Jemal Ahmet, of the Whittlesea Interagency Taskforce on Gambling, called on the government to take action. '

'The government needs to introduce laws to ban any cash withdrawals at pokie venues if they are serious about tackling problem gambling,'' he says. ''Self-regulations and responsible gambling codes of conduct are not working.'' Mr. Parsons, on the other hand, argues that attempting to ban all types of cash withdrawals at pokie venues would be misguided.

Patrons who do not gamble also require the use to EFTPOS withdrawals to pay for any number of expenses – and extending the ban would greatly disadvantage them.