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Sunday, December 6, 2020
Ian Cubitts
Ian Cubitts

ACT pokies to be cut to 4,000 by 2020

Legislation passed in the ACT Legislative Assembly on Tuesday 27 November has set in place the framework to reduce the number of poker machines operating in the ACT to 4,000 by 2020, honouring the Greens-Labor Parliamentary Agreement.

The framework aims to provide clubs with an avenue to transition away from gambling-based revenue.

ACT Greens Spokesperson for Gaming Harm Reform, Shane Rattenbury, said the legislation offers a range of monetary and offset incentives to encourage voluntary surrender, but also sets a deadline for compulsory surrender if required.

“A business model that relies on revenue from problem gambling is a broken business model. We want to support clubs and our community to move away from poker machines and really take problem gambling seriously,” he said.

ACT Minister for Business and Regulatory Services, Gordon Ramsay, said that he was pleased with the engagement process and congratulated clubs on their willingness to look at the bigger picture.

“I am pleased that clubs are looking to utilise the Government’s incentives to reduce their number of gaming machines,” Minister Ramsay said.

In addition to reducing the number of gaming machine authorisations, the package includes draft reforms about what can and can’t be counted as a community contribution.

Minister Ramsay said the package of reforms will support clubs to diversify away from gaming machines, and directly increase the amount of gambling revenue that’s reinvested back into the community.

“The Government is interested in hearing views on the details of the proposed reforms to the scheme,” Minister Ramsay said.

“Our goal is to ensure more money will be distributed back to the community from the proceeds of gaming machines, and that contributions will reach more of Canberra’s community.”

Minister Rattenbury said the Greens support the Productivity Commission’s recommendations for a suite of harm minimisation measures, including mandatory pre-commitment and $1 maximum bet limits.

“We will continue to strongly advocate for these important measures as part of a broader package of reform design to curb the damaging effects of gambling harm in our community,” he said.

The ACT Greens’ figures for 2015-16 showed real expenditure from poker machine gambling in the ACT was $168.5 million, accounting for 73% of all gambling expenditure in the Territory. Estimates suggest the average user spends an average of $2,667 per year on pokies.

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