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Alcohol promotions in NSW

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What makes a promotion undesirable?

 A promotional activity can be ‘undesirable’ and subject to a ban or restriction if the Secretary considers it contravenes one of seven principles in section 102 of the Act. These include that a promotion:

  1. Must not have a special appeal to minors, because of the design, names, motifs or characters in the promotion that are, or are likely to be, attractive to minors, or for any other reason.
  2. Must not be indecent or offensive.
  3. Must not involve the use of non-standard measures that encourage irresponsible drinking and is likely to result in intoxication.
  4. Should not use emotive descriptions or advertising that encourages irresponsible drinking and is likely to result in intoxication.
  5. Should not involve the provision of free drinks, or extreme discounts or discounts of a limited duration, that creates an incentive for patrons to consume liquor more rapidly than they otherwise might.
  6. Should not otherwise encourage irresponsible, rapid or excessive consumption of liquor.
  7. Should not otherwise be considered to not be in the public interest.

When running promotions licensees should always consider how the principles apply, as well as what actions they can take to minimise any risk of harm.

Typically, Liquor & Gaming NSW will first contact the licensee to seek an explanation when there are concerns that standards are not being met and may request changes or withdrawal of the promotion.

If any concerns are not addressed then the Secretary, or a Liquor & Gaming NSW delegate, can ban or restrict any promotion considered to be undesirable by issuing a written notice under section 102 of the Act.

Section 102A can also be used to restrict or prohibit any activities likely to encourage the misuse or abuse of liquor. If a licensee does not comply with a ban or restriction, they face fines of up to $5,500.

Principle 1 – Appeal to Minors. Promotions must not have a special appeal to minors, because of the design, names, motifs or characters in the promotion that are, or are likely to be, attractive to minors, or for any other reason.

Care should be taken in using celebrities or other role models that have a special appeal to minors as part of the liquor promotion. This may be construed as having a special appeal to minors under the Act.

Examples of unacceptable promotions

  • Using characters, imagery, motifs, naming or designs that would appeal to minors.
  • Including merchandise that primarily appeals to minors.
  • Using interactive games or technology that would appeal to minors.
  • Using images of people that look under 18 years of age that suggests they are or have been consuming liquor or may be about to.


Principle 2 – Indecent or Offensive. Promotions must not be indecent or offensive.

The use of indecent or offensive material in a liquor promotion is of poor taste and is against general community standards. While determining what is indecent or offensive can be subjective, licensees should be mindful of what would reasonably be considered offensive in the broader community.

Examples of unacceptable promotions

  • Using images, including of human bodies, that may be considered offensive to a reasonable adult. • Offering free or discounted drinks for participating in an activity that may be offensive to a reasonable adult present on the premises, for example, encouraging participants to remove items of clothing.
  • Using insulting or offensive language.
  • Using any form of discriminatory, demeaning or vilifying language or imagery.
  • Using sexual, degrading or sexist images, symbols, figures or innuendo.


Principle 3 – Non-Standard Measures Promotions must not involve the use of nonstandard measures that encourage irresponsible drinking and is likely to result in intoxication.

Where standard measures aren’t used the likelihood of irresponsible drinking is increased as the alcohol content of the drink is unknown. This principle, and the use of standard measures, is most relevant for promotions that offer liquor for consumption on licensed premises. 

Examples of unacceptable promotions  

  • Encouraging the consumption of liquor in a yard glass for skolling.
  • Encouraging the consumption of laybacks, slammers, blasters, bombs or consumption from a water pistol or test tubes with no stand.
  • Encouraging an individual to purchase and consume on their own an alcoholic drink intended to be shared (that is, a drink containing a significant number of standard drinks).
  • Encouraging the consumption of multiple shooters or shots by an individual.

 

Principle 4 – Emotive Description or Advertising The promotion should not use emotive descriptions or advertising that encourages irresponsible drinking and is likely to result in intoxication.

A promotion that focuses on drinking irresponsibly or uses emotive descriptions to encourage excessive or rapid drinking can influence the actions of consumers and increase the likelihood of drinking to excess, intoxication and other alcohol related harm.

Examples of unacceptable promotions

  • Promoting events which focus primarily on the excessive consumption of alcohol e.g. ‘Mad Monday’.
  • Using language, labelling or titling that suggest irresponsible or excessive consumption of alcohol (e.g. ‘Drink like a fish’, ‘beat the clock’ and challenges to drink within certain timeframes).
  • Engaging a person who, as part of the promotion, enthusiastically talks up excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages, encourages intoxication or irresponsible or illegal behaviour.
  • Encouraging consumers to get drunk. This may involve the use of language images or slogans such as ‘drink till you drop’ or ‘drink your money’s worth’.
  • Encouraging patrons to post pictures on social media of themselves in an intoxicated state.

Licensees should take particular care in determining whether the name of a promotion or any promotional material used contains descriptions that may encourage irresponsible drinking.

 

Principle 5 – Extreme Discounts. Promotions should not involve the provision of free drinks or extreme discounts, or discounts for a limited duration that create an incentive for patrons to consume liquor more rapidly than they otherwise might.

Discounts should not be excessive to the point where the promotion could encourage irresponsible drinking and intoxication.

Examples of unacceptable promotions

  • Providing free drinks which encourage rapid consumption of alcohol (e.g. all you can drink in a limited time frame).
  • Using drink cards, promotional cards, vouchers or shopper dockets which encourage rapid consumption of alcohol over a short period of time (e.g. $50 voucher redeemable between 9pm and 10pm).
  • Promoting happy hours encouraging or facilitating the rapid consumption of alcohol.
  • Promotions that link the consumption of alcohol to unpredictable events (e.g. free drinks until the first points scored).

Licensees should be cautious in offering discounts on drinks associated with rapid alcohol consumption (e.g. shots). Extreme discounting of any product designed for rapid consumption, whether for consumption on premises or for take-away, is likely to be unacceptable.

 

Principle 6 – Irresponsible, Rapid or Excessive Consumption. Promotions should not otherwise encourage irresponsible, rapid or excessive consumption of liquor.

Licensees should always be mindful that liquor promotions they run do not encourage people to drink irresponsibly, rapidly or excessively.

Licensees should take care to ensure these types of promotions do not encourage people to drink in greater amounts or faster than they otherwise would.

Examples of unacceptable promotions  

  • Using drinkware which encourages rapid consumption, such as test tubes, water pistols or yard glasses.
  • Drinking games, competitions, challenges, dares, scoreboards, lotteries or games of chance that involve the rapid or excessive consumption of liquor (e.g. beer pong, skolling games, flip and win, ‘around the world’, ‘60 shots in 60 minutes’, pub golf).
  • Challenging or daring patrons to drink a particular drink because of its higher alcohol content.
  • Happy hours occurring late into the trading period or early hours of the morning.
  • Encourage the stockpiling of drinks.

 

Principle 7 – Not in Public Interest. Promotions should not otherwise be considered to not be in the public interest. 

Generally, if something is not in the public interest it goes against principles of fairness, equity, decency or lawfulness in society. Public interest is linked to the wellbeing of the community or risk of detriment to the community at large.

Licensees need to ensure promotions do not contain discriminatory or demeaning content, or promote unlawfulness.

Examples of unacceptable promotions

  • Using images or messages that could be seen to be encouraging or condoning breaking the law or other anti-social behaviour.
  • Using images or messages which link the promotion of alcohol with illicit drugs or allude to drug taking behaviour.
  • Associating liquor consumption with aggressive or violent behaviour towards other people.
  • Including discriminatory elements into a promotion such as a gender-based free drinks or discounts (e.g. ‘women drink free’).

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