Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 06 Hansard (Tuesday, 5 June 2018) . . Page.. 2000 ..
issues have been addressed for assessments under the Gaming Machine Regulation, and this bill provides similar requirements for the casino.
I am pleased to see that the social impact assessments for poker machines at the casino must identify the impact on both the local community, within three kilometres of the venue, and the broader Canberra community. This is a recognition that poker machines have the potential to cause harm not just to those in the immediate vicinity but right across our community, with the impacts on families and friends not being any less significant.
The bill also makes the important recognition that any poker machine licensees within 200 metres of the casino that have links with the casino licensee should be required to operate as if they were in the casino. That means these machines are also subject to $2 maximum bets and mandatory precommitment in order to ensure best harm minimisation practice. It is also a recognition that there is the potential for a loophole where machines could be considered close to the casino but not in the casino and therefore avoid the harm minimisation requirements in the legislation. This clause prevents that kind of behaviour and sends an important signal that the harm minimisation measures in the casino act are to be taken seriously and be fully implemented.
Finally, I would like to speak briefly to the impacts of this legislation on the gaming machine trading system. Under the existing scheme, when it expired on 31 August 2018 there would be an automatic requirement for machines to be forfeited in order to meet the target of having no more than 15 machines per 1,000 people in the ACT. This deadline was originally set to create an incentive for trades to occur and for the number of machines to reduce without the need for forced forfeitures. In reality, due to a number of factors, I think it is fair to say that the trading scheme has not been as effective as was intended, and we have now reached a plateau where very few trades are occurring.
In this environment, I accept that it would have a big economic impact on clubs if the government were to simply force them to forfeit the remaining 900 or so authorisations to get down to 4,000 machines. Therefore, I think Minister Ramsay has taken the right path by engaging an external consultant who is working with the clubs on a clear path to get down to that 4,000 figure.
I want to be clear that the Greens remain absolutely committed to reducing the number of poker machines in the ACT, and the move down to 4,000 is an important first step. I also think, from my conversations with a number of clubs, that many of them recognise that we have too many machines in Canberra and want to be part of the solution. Therefore I am hopeful that the process that Neville Stevens is undertaking will provide an outcome that gets us to 4,000 machines and actually helps clubs to find alternative, more sustainable revenue streams. That is why I am happy to support the deferral of the next stage of the trading scheme, to give a bit more time for the current process to reach a conclusion.
This bill presents a range of amendments relating to gaming in the ACT. The Greens are supportive of the intent to improve the integrity and transparency of processes