THE board of ClubsACT met last night and confirmed the club industry’s opposition to Canberra Casino having access to poker machines.
“ClubsACT and the ACT Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2012. Clause 8 of that agreement states very clearly that ‘The ACT Government will continue to support the community based gaming model’”, said Chief Executive of ClubsACT, Jeff House.
“The entire club industry expects the ACT Government to abide by the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding which was designed to give clubs certainty over the current term of government.
“Any decision to grant the casino a license to operate gaming machines is a clear and unequivocal breach of that written agreement and a breach of faith.
“The impact of the Canberra Casino operating any gaming machines, let alone the 500 they are seeking would decimate clubs at a time when they are already financially vulnerable and trying to transition their business models.
“Any notion of the casino operating gaming machines for the international market is pure fantasy. People do not fly thousands of kilometres to play gaming machines. They certainly don’t fly to Canberra with no international flights, when there are casinos in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns and numerous casinos in Asia.
“Regardless of the casino’s intent, gaming machines in the for-profit Canberra Casino will be used by Canberrans at the great expense of not-for-profit community clubs. The profits will go offshore as opposed to the money spent in clubs which remains in the ACT”.
“If the gaming machines are not for domestic use as the casino states, then they would have no problem in agreeing to restrict access to their gaming machines to interstate and international visitors only. This will ensure their business model remains focused on the tourist market whilst protecting Canberra’s community clubs.
“Since the opening of Star City Casino in Sydney, 12 clubs have closed in the Sydney CBD (a 54.5% reduction in the number of clubs). 33 clubs have closed in the greater Sydney region. Further, the owners of Star City revealed in 2014 that Star City Casino generated 64% of its gaming revenue from the domestic market.
“64% domestic consumption in an established tourist destination such as Sydney reinforces the message that gaming machines in the Canberra Casino will be used by locals, not tourists and certainly not the premium international players that overwhelmingly prefer table games to gaming machines.
“The bottom line is that if the price of a redeveloped casino in Canberra is the decimation of community clubs including the contributions they make to the community and the overturning of a very long standing policy of successive governments, then the price is far too high”, Mr House concluded.