BRENDAN Smyth is not impressed with yesterday’s announcements on poker machines.
“Gaming Minister Joy Burch has totally failed ACT clubs in the response that she’s tabled to the largely tripartisan Public Accounts Committee report into the clubs sector,” Brendan said.
“This was the ideal opportunity for the government to turn its rhetoric into meaningful action to assist ACT clubs into a sustainable future. Instead the government has only agreed to a third of the committee recommendations.
He said the government has not agreed to:
- Develop an action plan to address problem gambling or match clubs’ funding contribution to problem gambling assistance.
- Simplify the Territory Plan to allow increased uses on club land.
- Protect community land.
“This is a government that received $33 million in revenue from poker machines last year and yet from its response it would appear to be unwilling to put a single additional cent into addressing problem gambling in the ACT.
“Minister Burch had the golden opportunity to deliver for ACT clubs today. In an appalling lack of leadership she has squandered the opportunity.
“It’s time this Minister went. Chief Minister Barr should replace her immediately,” Mr Smyth concluded.
The Greens’ Shane Rattenbury also judged it a missed opportunity.
“The Government’s response to a committee report into the future of clubs contained no serious gaming reforms and is a missed opportunity to address gambling harm within our community,” Shane said.
“The harms caused by problem gambling are well known. This report provided the Government with the opportunity for serious reform to address gambling harm and I am disappointed that they have chosen to overlook most of the recommendations.
“The Government response overlooks a number of substantive recommendations in the Public Accounts Committee report designed to minimise gambling harm in the ACT. Measures such as $1 bet limits and lower spin rates will deliver a real public health response to tackle gambling harm and the Government will not even consider them.
“The report also contained my additional recommendations such as an increase to the Problem Gambling Assistance Fund Levy to deliver more programs to tackle problem gambling. These recommendations were completely ignored by the Government in their response.
“The committee heard ample evidence that more research was required to help target problem gambling measures more effectively, and it is frustrating and disappointing that the Government has chosen not to do more address this need.
“While I welcome the news that the Government is negotiating to increase the Community Contribution from 8 to 10%, I recommended that the extra 2% be held and disbursed by a community fund that would allow the community to have input on how the money is spent.
“I am pleased that the Government has indicated it will not be repealing the $250 ATM withdrawal limit, however I am disappointed that they did not see fit to extend that limit to EFTPOS machines when we know that clubs have in the past been using these to circumvent ATM restrictions.
“This was a real opportunity to create reform within the sector and support clubs to pursue different business models that don’t rely on problem gambling and it is a real shame that more is not being done to embrace reform.”
Meanwhile Joy Burch is celebrating the contributions of clubs.
“Clubs contributed almost $12 million to community groups and organisations in 2014-15,” Joy said.
The figure is contained in the ACT Gambling and Racing Commission’s Community Contributions Made By Gaming Machine Licensees Report for 2014-15, which Joy tabled in the Legislative Assembly yesterday.
“The Commission’s report outlines that the total value of community contributions from clubs in 2014-15 was just below $11.9 million,” Joy said.
“This is slightly down from the $12.5 million provided in 2013-14, which reflects a continuing decrease in net gaming machine revenue (NGMR).
“However, it is still 12.62 per cent of net gaming machine revenue – well above the legislated contribution of 8 per cent of NGMR. All clubs contributed more than 8 per cent and 13 licensees contributed more than 20 per cent of the NGMR, highlighting clubs’ generosity towards the community.
“The contributions included more than $7.5 million for sport and recreation, $1.7 million for non-profit community activities and nearly $1.1 million for charitable and social welfare.
“These contributions are a significant benefit to the community and I applaud the clubs for maintaining their funding in these important areas.
“Clubs which hold gaming machine licences are required under the Gaming Machine Act 2004 to report on community contributions.
“Hotel and tavern gaming machine licensees are not required by the Act to make contributions, however it is compulsory for them to submit a report on their community contributions to the Commission. In 2014-15, hotels and taverns contributed a total of $7,923 to the community.
The report will be available at the ACT Gambling and Racing Commission’s website at:
Publications – ACT Gambling and Racing Commission ( gamblingandracing.act.gov.au )