Incentives for clubs to go ‘pokie-free’

Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay

THE ACT government has today (August 21) announced it’ll be offering incentives to set a “pathway” to reduce gaming machines in Canberra. 

With an aim to reduce poker machines in Canberra to 4000, Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay says this package of incentives is about making sure clubs can continue to be there for the people of Canberra, while reducing their reliance on gaming machines.

If a reduction to 4000 authorisations is not achieved through voluntary surrender, Mr Ramsay says there will be a two-stage compulsory surrender of authorisations – in April 2019 and April 2020.

“We want to minimise harm to the community and have a strong, sustainable, diverse and community-focused club sector,” he says. 

He says all clubs who voluntarily surrender authorisations will be able to access offsets for land-related fees and charges, such as lease variation charges, to make it easier for them to redevelop their land for activities other than running pokies. 

Clubs will also have access to a new “Diversification Support Fund”, which, Mr Gentleman says will be jointly funded by industry and government to help clubs pursue a future away from gaming machines and support club staff to develop new skills.  

Small and medium clubs will be eligible for up to $12,000 for every gaming machine authorisation they voluntarily surrender by January 31, 2019.

Clubs that opt to go pokie-free altogether will be rewarded with a 25 per cent bonus on top of any incentives they claim. 

“Once we hit the 4000 mark, the number of authorisations will continue to decline as one-in-four will be forfeited when clubs trade authorisations,” Mr Ramsay says. 

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