For the first time, Casino Canberra will be able to acquire up to 200 poker machines and 60 fully automated table games, subject to it redeveloping the site and adopting harm-minimisation measures, after the passing of legislation in the Legislative Assembly last week.
Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay said the Casino (Electronic Gaming) Act 2017, which breaks the pokies monopoly of clubs and hotels in the ACT, set the framework for the Casino to begin acquiring existing gaming machine authorisations.
“Minimising the harm that comes with electronic gaming machines and maximising the benefits to Canberra of this change are the goals of the new framework,” he said.
The Casino must provide a social impact assessment for public comment for a minimum of eight weeks and complete a substantial redevelopment of the site before it can begin operating any machines.
Owner ‘Aquis Entertainment’ has said it would spend $330 million rebuilding the casino and creating a resort-style entertainment, dining and retail precinct in the city.
The Hong Kong-based company believes the redevelopment could attract almost 750,000 extra visitors to Canberra a year including high-end Chinese gamblers.
“What this means is that when gaming machines begin to operate at the Casino, they will be part of a renewed entertainment precinct for Canberrans to enjoy,” Mr Ramsay said.
“In addition, the casino will be required to complete a substantial redevelopment before it can begin operating any machines.”
The legislation also introduces mandatory pre-commitment (to prevent excessive use of poker machines) and $2 maximum bet limits, as well as capping the number of machine authorisations the casino can apply to operate at 200.
The Casino will be required to connect gaming machines to an approved mandatory pre-commitment system in the ACT, which is the only Australian jurisdiction to require this.
“Both the gaming machines and the terminals must be able to be connected to a central monitoring system that supports gaming integrity, data and tax collection, as well as the setting of harm minimisation measures,” Minister Ramsay said.
He said that under the arrangements the number of machines in the ACT will actually fall by 130.
“No new authorisations will be issued to the casino – they will all come from within the existing Territory maximum number,” he said.
“The requirement for the casino to acquire gaming machine authorisations from existing gaming venues will contribute to reducing the overall number of gaming machine authorisations in the ACT, with the forfeiture requirement increasing from one-in-four to one-in-three for the Casino. This means that 130 machines will be taken out of circulation.”
Mr Ramsay said at least half of the authorisations must come from small or medium clubs, club groups and hotels.
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