Minister for Racing and Gaming Joy Burch today introduced the Gaming Machine (Reform) Amendment Bill 2015, which implements the second stage of the Gaming Machine Reform Package announced last October.
“Our community clubs do a wonderful job in supporting community groups and providing friendly, affordable places for people to meet and catch up with friends and family,” Ms Burch said.
“However, many are struggling in difficult economic times as they face increasing competition from other entertainment venues and traditional revenue streams dry up.
“This package includes a suite of reforms aimed at supporting the ongoing viability of community clubs to ensure they can continue to deliver real benefits to their members and the broader Canberra community while retaining a strong harm minimisation framework.
“I am pleased to introduce this Bill to the Assembly today, which includes a mechanism to reduce the number of gaming machines in the Territory.”
The Bill amends the Gaming Machine Act 2004 and follows the first stage of reforms introduced through the Gaming Machine (Red Tape Reduction) Amendment Act 2014 (No 2), which commenced on 5 December 2014.
The Bill introduces an open market trading scheme for gaming machine authorisations, underpinned by a new licensing and authorisation framework, and a phased reduction in the number of gaming machines operating in the Territory.
“The trading scheme will allow licensees who want to reduce their reliance on gaming machine revenue or move out of gaming altogether to trade their authorisations to operate individual machines,” Ms Burch said.
“The number of machines will be reduced in two phases. In Phase 1, for every four authorisations traded, one will be forfeited and taken out of operation. Licensees will also be required to ‘quarantine’ a number of gaming machines and their authorisations from use.
“This phase may take up to three years to give the industry time to adjust. During this period, the total number of authorisations cannot exceed the number of gaming machines in the ACT at the time the legislation starts, which is expected to be 5,024 machines.
“As this means all clubs will already have the maximum permitted number of authorisations to operate machines, clubs will be able to apply for a one-off increase to their authorisation certificate to allow them to acquire authorisations from those who wish to sell them.
“This will not lead to any increase in the number of machines or authorisations to operate machines. It is simply a mechanism to allow clubs to begin trading.
“In Phase 2, clubs with 20 or more authorisations will be required to surrender authorisations on a pro-rata basis to the extent needed to meet the new maximum ratio of 15 gaming machine authorisations per 1,000 adults in the ACT.
“The ACT Gambling and Racing Commission will review progress during Phase 1 to ensure that satisfactory reductions are being made. If not, I will have the discretion as Minister to bring forward the commencement of Phase 2 and immediately implement the new ratio.
“Hotels and taverns will be able to divest themselves of outdated Class B gaming machines by selling the gaming machine authorisations to clubs under the trading scheme, but will not be able to obtain authorisations to operate newer Class C machines.
“This Bill also introduces changes to taxation arrangements so the largest clubs pay more tax and smaller clubs pay less. Arrangements for community contributions remain unchanged, as do arrangements for contributions to the Problem Gambling Assistance Fund.
“This is a major and complex reform for the industry and the ACT government will work with clubs to provide information and support during implementation of the trading scheme and other changes introduced through the Bill.
“In line with the Memorandum of Understanding with ClubsACT, the ACT Government will continue to consult on measures that can ease the administrative burden on clubs and build viability for the future, whilst retaining appropriate safeguards for the community.”
- Statement ends -
Section: Joy Burch, MLA | Media Releases
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