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Fund to help clubs diversify revenue

Canberra clubs are set to contribute to a fund designed to help the industry diversify their business models away from gambling-based revenue.

The Gambling Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 was introduced to the Legislative Assembly on Thursday 4 April. The bill creates a Diversification and Sustainability Support Fund, which was a recommendation of the ACT Club Industry Diversification Support Analysis report prepared by Neville Stevens AO in 2018.

ACT Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay said the fund “will be made up of contributions from club licensees based on the number of [gaming machine] authorisations held at the venues, providing an incentive for unused authorisations to be divested”.

The contribution rate for the first 99 authorisations held at a club venue will be $20 per month, rising to $30 per month for each authorisation over this.

The ACT Government has agreed to match industry contributions for the first three years of operation starting in [financial year] 2019-20, with the fund expected to collect around $2 million per annum. After three years, a review of the government’s contribution to the fund will be conducted to ensure the fund is still meeting its intent.

Funding will be allocated for projects based on general criteria and must meet one of the following purposes: assisting clubs to diversify their income to sources other than gaming machines; supporting the sustainability of clubs; contributing to projects that help reduce regulatory costs or improve efficiency in administration and compliance for clubs; or training and skills development for club workers, executives and members of club management committees and boards.

In line with the recommendations of the Stevens Report, guidelines for the fund will give priority during the first three years to small and medium clubs (i.e. those with Gross Gaming Machine Revenue of not more than $4 million) and those who have voluntarily surrendered authorisations in accordance with their surrender obligations.

“Clubs are places that support their local communities through sport, culture, and through social connections and are not just places to gamble,” Minister Ramsay said.

“This is another example of this government’s commitment to support clubs to strengthen and diversify their businesses, so they can continue their important contribution to the life of our community,” Minister Ramsay said.

The reduction of electronic gaming machine licences in the ACT to 4,000 by 2020 is a Parliamentary Agreement item between Labor and the Greens. As at Thursday 4 April, the current number of Gaming Authorisations in the ACT is 4003.

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