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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 13 Hansard (Thursday, 17 November 2011) . . Page.. 5521 ..


territory above the current cap of 5,024 machines. The government believes that, over time, the total number of machines operating in the ACT should be reduced.

This bill introduces a statement of intent that outlines a medium to longer term target for the gaming machine cap of 4,000 machines. To reach this target, the bill proposes that the gaming machine cap will be reduced automatically whenever gaming machine operators return machine licences or licences are cancelled. This will allow the number of machines to be reduced over time without requiring direct government intervention. By seeking to achieve a reduction in gaming machine numbers through natural attrition, this reduction method recognises the significant contribution to the community made by ACT clubs and some of the challenges facing the industry.

In light of the proposed change to gaming cap mechanics, the bill also introduces a scheme for the internal transfer of machines for multi-venue club groups. This scheme will allow improved flexibility in machine allocation for club groups that can demonstrate excess demand for gaming machines within one of their venues. It will allow club groups to transfer machines from a venue with low utilisation to a venue with potentially higher utilisation, thereby increasing efficiency in the industry. This will be beneficial for the club industry and will be achieved without an increase in the overall number of machines in the ACT.

Importantly, the current consumer protection measures within the act will be maintained to ensure that the proposed scheme does not lead to an excessive concentration of machines within a smaller number of venues. Transfers will be subject to the current social impact and needs assessments required by the act and administered by the Gambling and Racing Commission.

In addition to the internal transfer scheme, the bill also introduces the option for a club or a multi-venue club group to transfer some of their existing gaming machines to a new club venue on a greenfield site. Any licence amendment application made under this category will still be subject to the social impact assessments of the commission. The criteria on which the commission must base its decision will be expanded to include consideration of the contribution that a new club will make to the community.

The changes would provide increased flexibility to approve an application for a new club venue when it is clear on balance that there will be a positive impact on the community. This amendment will help enable the establishment of new clubs in Canberra without a corresponding increase in the overall number of machines operating in the territory. This is especially important for the newly developed and developing parts of our city, which currently have limited or no club facilities but for which there is or will be in the future demand for new club venues.

In addition to the amendments outlined above, the bill also introduces a $250 per card per day ATM withdrawal limit for gaming machine venues. The government recognises that introducing the withdrawal limit will take time. As a consequence, the commencement date for this section of the bill is 1 January 2013, which will give operators sufficient time to ensure their ATMs are compliant with the legislation. The Productivity Commission recommended this in its 2010 report on gambling and concluded that such a limit could help those experiencing harm from their gambling.


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