Fresh cash incentives to get community clubs to ditch their poker machines entirely might not get operators to give up all their licences, but it will encourage them to further contemplate different business models, the ACT state Gaming Minister has said.
Shane Rattenbury said the government was trying to give the community greater choice in poker-machine free venues.
“The incentive in trying to have some pokie free clubs is there’s clear community feedback that people like to have a choice of clubs to go to, where they can go to a club that doesn’t necessarily have pokies,” Mr Rattenbury said.
The ACT government will use a $1.74 program to encourage venues to give up their gaming machine authorisations, with $15,000 on offer for each authorisation surrendered.
A club that chooses to go completely poker-machine free will receive $20,000 for each authorisation surrendered back to the government, which is trying to cut the number of poker machines in the community to 3500 by July 1, 2025.
The scheme aims to remove 116 poker machine authorisations from the community.
There are 3643 electronic gaming machines in operation across Canberra, the latest figures from the Gaming and Racing Commission show, but there are 3863 machine authorisations. There were more than 5000 authorisations in August 2015.
Mr Rattenbury said the latest round of the scheme came from a request from the clubs sector, which indicated COVID had caused financial difficulty and clubs would see the scheme as a way to inject cash into their businesses.
“There is a degree of art and science in it. We have seen through the first phase of this program the $15,000 did encourage clubs to return their licence, and we think that’s a fair price that acknowledges that these are revenue generating sources for the clubs,” he said.
The payments will be available until December 31 unless the fund is exhausted earlier. It builds on a COVID-19 surrender incentive which was in place from April 2020 to June 2021.
Source: Pokie surrender scheme to offer cash for licences in bid to drive community club choice | The Canberra Times | Canberra, ACT