Can Anyone Own a Poker Machine in New South Wales?

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Can Anyone Own a Poker Machine in New South Wales?

So, you’re setting up your man cave with your bar, pool table, arcade machine and big screen TV to watch the footy – and wouldn’t mind a second-hand poker machine to add to your nirvana.

Or, you may be reminiscing about the good old days when pokies didn’t have the bright colours and loud sounds they have today. Ah, those old ‘one arm bandits’ – pull the lever and like a good ole outlaw, it will steal the shirt off your back.

The fun police

Sadly, the fact of the matter is the New South Wales government has a stranglehold on almost anything to do with gaming machines in our state; except, of course, filling its coffers with the proceeds.

And the bottom line is that acquiring, possessing, owning, transferring or selling a gaming machine in circumstances that you don’t have the required entitlement, licence and authorisation can amount to a criminal offence in our state.

Regulation of gaming machines

Gaming machines in New South Wales are primarily regulated by the Gaming Machines Act 2001 (NSW) (‘the Act’) and its regulations, and administered by Liquor and Gaming New South Wales.

What is a gaming machine?

Section 4 of the Act defines a gaming machine as a device that is designed for:

  • The playing of a game of chance or a game that is partly a game of chance and partly a game requiring skill, and
  • For paying out money or tokens or for registering a right to an amount of money or money’s worth to be paid,

The definition includes any component of such a machine.

Court and Tribunal decisions made under the Act have consistently interpreted the terms therein remarkably broadly, and there is an argument the use of the words ‘designed for’ – rather than, for example, functions or operates in a way that – is potentially capable of capturing machines that are designed for the above but later modified so as not to receive or issue actual payments.

Indeed, the New South Wales Civil and Administrative Tribunal has found that an approved gaming machine does not cease to become so simply because it has been modified.

How can I legally acquire a gaming machine?

To legally acquire or even possess a gaming machine, you must have:

  • A club liquor licence or hotel liquor licence,
  • A sufficient gaming machine threshold for the number of machines you wish to acquire, and
  • A gaming machine entitlement or poker machine entitlement for each gaming machine you have.

Once you have these, you will need to:

  • Acquire a gaming machine from a licensed dealer or seller, or from a hotel or club that is licensed to dispose of the machine,
  • Contact Data Monitoring Systems to arrange for central monitoring equipment to be installed at your venue,
  • Provide direct debit details to Liquor and Gaming’s Revenue Assurance and Probity Unit,
  • Apply through Quickchange for authorisation to keep and operate the machine, and
  • Connect to the central monitoring system.

Payment for the machine must be made within 90 days of the delivery date, unless you have deferred the payment by way of a financial agreement approved by the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority Board.

Trade-ins are allowed as part of the purchase, and the payment can be a combination of cash and trade-in.

There are also strict rules about where the machine can be placed as well as accounting and record-keeping requirements.

What if I break the rules?

The Gaming Machines Act 2001 contains several criminal offences relating to the purchase, possession, supply and sale of gaming machines in breach of the rules.

Many of these offences are contained in Part 6 of the Act, and include:

Section of Act Offence Maximum penalty
Section 69 Possession etc of gaming machines that are not approved 12 months in prison and/or 100 penalty units
Section 69A Sale etc of unapproved gaming machine components 100 penalty units
Section 70 Possession of approved gaming machine by unauthorised person 12 months in prison and/or 100 penalty units
Section 71 Offer to supply, supply or purchase of gaming machine in contravention of the rules Up to 12 months in prison and/or 100 penalty units, depending on the specific offence
Section 72 Keeping or modifying a gaming machine in contravention of the rules 100 penalty units


One  penalty unit in New South Wales is currently $110.

Liquor and Gaming warns that ‘Members of the public are advised not to purchase a gaming machine if found advertised’, making clear that doing so could attract ‘maximum penalties up to $11,000 and/or 12 months imprisonment’.

Perhaps that’s good advice for those who wish to stay on the right side of the law, regardless of how enticing having a pokie in the man cave or an old one arm bandit in the trophy room may be.

Going to court for an offence under the Gaming Act?

If you have been charged with an offence under the Gaming Act, call Sydney Criminal Lawyers anytime on (02) 9261 8881 and let one of our experienced, specialist defence lawyers provide you with accurate advice about the law and your options, and fight for the optimal outcome.

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