18 February 2019

Clubs have until end of month as Government nears pokies target

| Ian Bushnell
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There are now 934 fewer gaming machine authorisations in the ACT.

The ACT Government is close to achieving its goal of cutting the number of gaming machines in the Territory to 4000 by 2020.

Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay has announced the maximum number of pokies that can be operated in the Territory has been reduced to 4012, with clubs surrendering, or forfeiting through trading, a total of 934 gaming machine authorisations.

Mr Ramsay said clubs had until the end of the month before the Government moved to force them to surrender authorisations to reach the target.

He said clubs were provided with the option to voluntarily surrender authorisations in exchange for access to offsets for land-related payments, fees and charges, including those for changing leases.

Small and medium clubs could choose to receive $12,000 cash for every gaming machine authorisation voluntarily surrendered.

“Access to this support will make it easier for clubs to create new revenue opportunities that reduce their reliance on gaming machines,” Minister Ramsay said.

The Southern Cross Yacht Club was one such club to take up the offer, choosing to go pokie free in exchange for the extra benefits.

Mr Ramsay said further trading between clubs may reduce the number of authorisations to be compulsory surrendered by clubs, as one-in-four were forfeited when clubs traded authorisations.

“If the number of authorisations does not reduce through trading to 4000 by the end of February, steps will be put in place for the first stage of compulsory surrender to occur on 1 April 2019,” he said.

“This stage will apply to clubs that did not meet their indicative surrender obligation through the voluntary surrender process.”

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