Canberra Clubs to Get Rewards in Exchange for Pokie Licences

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In a bid to reduce the number of gaming machines in Canberra, clubs will be getting cash or discounts for each pokie machine they voluntarily surrender before February 2019. The city plans to cut poker machines down to 4000. Read on.

Canberra Australia

Canberra Pokie Licences & Machines

As part of a power-sharing deal which came into effect in 2016, Labor and the Greens agreed to reduce the number of electronic gaming machines to 4000 by July 2020. A total of 4981 licences were in circulation as of April, but only 4498 pokie machines were in use. According to a review by Neville Stevens – a former departmental secretary for Commonwealth – the current trading scheme has been unsuccessful to reduce the number of pokies due to the uncertainty in the gambling industry and casino development.

The findings revealed that several clubs in the city were holding on to their pokie licences because they were uncertain of whether or not they might need them in future. More so, if the value for their authorisations may rise with casinos now being able to purchase licences for 200 pokie machines and 60 automated table games.

Stevens said that clubs in the area “broadly acknowledged” that they needed to diversify away from pokies revenue. A number of local pokie operators are already scouting alternate business models.’

Clubs to Get Rewards in Exchange for Pokie Licences

More so, the review also found that even under-performing pokie machines still made a difference to the clubs’ income. However, it failed to outline how the reduction of the pokie licences could affect the profits for the clubs in the short term.  Stevens said it would vary from club to club regardless of the club size.

The Rewards for Pokie Licences

Below are the cash rewards and discounts that clubs in Canberra will get if they apply to surrender their pokie licences by January 31, 2019:

  • Small to medium sized clubs – an estimated AU$12 000 per licence.
  • Smaller clubs – AU$25 000 discount per licence on lease variation charges and planning fees.
  • Larger clubs – AU$15 000 discount per authorisation.

Steven said that larger clubs had both more expertise and financial capacity to undertake “diversification through land redevelopment”.

The five hotels in the city will also get an estimated AU$6000 each for a single authorisation, however won’t be eligible for planning discounts. Each of the Canberra hotels hold 50 gaming machine authorisations.