THE Australian Hotels Association (AHA) ACT Branch says the introduction of a poker machine trading scheme in the ACT should be permanently delayed by the ACT Government.
The AHA ACT says the proposed trading scheme, where licensed clubs can trade Class-C poker machines in the open marketplace, is “morally bankrupt” as the clubs did not own the poker machine licenses, they simply enjoy the right to use them.
AHA ACT General Manager Brad Watts said ACT licensed clubs were gifted poker machine licenses in the 1970s free-of-charge.
“How can someone trade something they don’t own and make a profit? Poker machines licenses are not for clubs to sell – these valuable assets belong to all Canberrans,” Brad said.
“It’s unacceptable that clubs could be able to trade poker machine licenses and make mega-profits when they paid nothing for them in first place – it’s morally bankrupt.”
Mr Watts said until this matter was further investigated by an independent authority and properly debated in the Assembly by all key players in the gaming industry, the trading scheme should be permanently shelved.
“The ACT Government has an obligation to further investigate the validity of the trading scheme and further consult with the key industry players.”
“If these licenses belong to the community, then the money should go back to the ACT Government rather than making large clubs richer.”
Currently, there are 68 outdated Class-B gaming machines in licensed hotels and pubs across Canberra compared with almost 5000 Class-C modern gaming machines in licensed club venues. Under the proposed legislation, Class-B machines cannot be upgraded to Class-C and hotels would need sell their gaming machine entitlements to a licensed club.
“There has never been a level playing field on gaming machines in the ACT and these reforms will only further exacerbate this inequity,” Mr Watts said.
UPDATE: Clubs ACT’s Jeff House had this to say in reply:
“As much as I would like some things to be ‘permanently delayed’, like ageing and the need for tax returns, I don’t think an already agreed cabinet decision can be delayed indefinitely.
“Further, if the AHA are concerned about the trading of gaming machines, one simple solution is for pubs and hotels not to be part of the proposed trading scheme so the opportunity for those venues to gain a financial benefit from selling their Class B machines can also be ‘permanently delayed’”