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NSW ‘to hit the underground’ to catch wayward liquor-delivery services

(Source: Bigstock)

Online liquor retailers in NSW have been warned they face undercover investigations to test they are complying with reforms introduced in July designed to make it harder to sell alcohol to minors and problem drinkers.

Liquor & Gaming NSW director of compliance Dimitri Argeres revealed a two-phase compliance operation commencing this month to “scrutinise the laws in action” starting with an audit of mandatory training, data records and supplier websites, and checks on self-exclusion options and ID verifications at the point of sale.

“Then we will hit the underground,” said Argeres. 

“We will be conducting covert secret shopper activities to see how successful we are at buying alcohol outside the legal obligations and whether any laws are breached, all the way to the front door.

“We will be testing those requirements – just like a minor or intoxicated person might do – to make sure that the legislation is functioning as intended and that delivery providers are complying with their obligations.”

Concerns have been growing at the rapid growth of express-delivery services selling liquor during times when consumers were stuck at home due to lockdowns and movement restrictions. 

These prompted new rules introduced in July including harsher penalties for delivering outside trading hours, to a minor or an intoxicated person, for failing to provide a means to self-exclude from deliveries, stricter ID checks, additional training for delivery staff and a requirement to lodge six-monthly data reports on same-day deliveries to Liquor & Gaming NSW.

Now, with the advent of the Christmas-New Year holiday season, the NSW Government will ramp up enforcement. 

“There are now many more players on the field and we are reminding all businesses to get familiar with the law,” Argeres said.

“Alcohol can now be bought and delivered in as little as 30 minutes and without regulatory safeguards, the business model is easily abused.

“All delivery provider staff had to be trained by December 1 and we want to see providers updating their websites to reflect their obligations as well as practising responsible service of alcohol within allowed trading hours,” he said.

Last year, regulatory action was taken 21 times against individuals and corporations for unlicensed liquor sales and deliveries, some of which resulted in convictions and fines imposed by courts.

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