The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission is set to introduce new changes to liquor legislation in mid-to-late 2022
In 2021, the Victorian Government introduced changes to Victorian liquor legislation that would come into effect in stages during 2021 and 2022. In mid-to-late 2022, another round of changes will be introduced by the industry regulator, the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC).
Why has the Victorian government introduced the changes?
The latest amendments seek to:
- Modernise liquor laws by accommodating the increased supply of alcohol in the online environment; and
- Prevent the potential harm and risks associated with alcohol supply via online orders
For example, while allowing vendors to obtain online-only licences, the new laws expressly prohibit advertising that is likely to appeal to minors or endorse anti-social behaviour associated with alcohol use.
What is the commencement date for the changes to Victorian liquor legislation?
So that you can prepare your business, we have outlined the changes that you can expect to see by mid-to-late 2022. However, as at 1 May 2022, the commencement dates for these changes are yet to be confirmed.
What other changes will come into effect?
New rules for clubs
The rules that apply to holders of club licences will be varied. This is to ensure that they are consistent and do not repeat or conflict with the rules to which incorporated clubs are already required to comply under other legislation. These rules relate to how management committees are elected.
New rules for highway service stations
Premises located at a highway service centre (for example, petrol stations along a highway or freeway) cannot be licensed. This means any place that provides vehicle services and food and drinks are prohibited from obtaining a liquor licence.
What are the application and administrative changes?
A new licence category will be introduced for vendors who only supply packaged alcohol through online orders. Affected licensees or businesses wishing to apply for an online-only licence will need to transfer or apply for a licence under this new category.
A club licence holder will also be able to supply liquor by orders placed online.
VCAT appeals for internal reviews
A person may apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for review of a VGCCC decision within 28 days of the date of the decision or receipt of a statement of reasons. Previously, appeals in respect of internal review decisions had to go to the Supreme Court.
What are the changes to delivery of online orders and offences?
This new rule also relates to supply through online orders. In particular, the licensee of an online liquor licence must ensure it gives specific instructions to the person responsible for delivering the liquor, such as:
- Only delivery alcohol to the person who placed the order
- Ensure the person receiving the order provides evidence of age
A liquor supplier must instruct delivery persons not to deliver alcohol to:
- An intoxicated person; or
- A person at risk of intoxication
A breach of this rule attracts 120 penalty units (a fine of more than $20,000).
The final word
The 2022 changes to Victorian liquor legislation include important modernisations, especially for online liquor orders. As a business operator, we recommend that you:
- Ensure you have the necessary liquor licence to run your business and enable you to supply alcohol the way you wish
- Understand the laws around online orders and deliveries, such as instructions to persons responsible for delivering online order
- Ensure your website meets all the necessary requirements to prevent supply to minors and avoid any promotions or advertisements which are prohibited under the legislation
- Be mindful of the new appeals process, where review of decisions will be heard by VCAT instead of the Supreme Court
By Milly Berry
Lawyer, Commercial & Property