ACT’s Poker Trading Scheme Unsuccessful

Bianca Munz | 08 June 2018

ACT’s Poker Trading Scheme Unsuccessful
Leader of the Australian Greens, Shane Rattenbury, has recently revealed that the poker machine-trading scheme introduced by the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) has proven unsuccessful, not working out as the organisation had originally planned.

The Greens party and the Labor Party have now collaborated to extend the deadline before which Aussie community clubs will need to close some of their pokies machines. The deadline in question has been extended for an additional year.

The legislative piece that would create an extension for the trading machine programme was forced to an end in August. However, Gambling Minister of ACT Gordon Ramsay is planning to enact a new bill that will ensure that there are only 15 pokies machines available for every 1,000 residents of Canberra.

Pokies Closure Deadline Extended

Since the start of the poker machine-trading scheme in 2015, local gaming operators and clubs have shut down only 38 of the offending machines. The initial goal was to slash the number of machines by at least 1,000 by 2020. Gambling clubs would have been urged to begin to surrender their pokies from August this year to allow the new cap of 4,000 machines to be achieved.

Since that time, Aquis has gained permission to operate 200 pokies in total, along with 60 automated gaming tables. The casino owner in return is required to construct a new gaming area with an estimated cost of $300 million. The operator has also recently been slapped with an undefined extension under which the planned expansion should take place, which essentially means that clubs offering pokies would have been the ones hardest hit by the negative aspects of the acquisition.

Severe Impact Not Intended

Greens’ leader Rattenbury has recently clarified that his party only intended to reduce the amount of poker games on the market – and not to impact harshly on any community clubs in Australia. It was for this reason that he revealed that the trading scheme has not been as effective as expected, noting that the tools used for checks, control and balance featured by the legislation would in fact come at the expense of clubs, which was not originally intended.

Rattenbury further noted that the situation does need to be considered in order for the Aussie government to ensure that community clubs do not suffer disproportionate consequences should it decide to close down the remaining 900 pokies. This choice would be made in order to slash the number of machines to 4,000, as planned.

He also explained that some clubs have agreed that there are too many pokies in Canberra, and are willing to form ‘part of the solution’. The Canberra Liberal Party has not supported the bill to extend the deadline for clubs, noting that the delay would be yet another challenge for the casino redevelopment to surmount.

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