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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 01 Hansard (Thursday, 3 December 2020 2020) . . Page.. 134 ..

The ACT Greens have long advocated for a reduction in bet limits and load-up limits on gaming machines. Under the current bet limit of $10 per spin, a person can lose more than $1,000 an hour. The previous government ensured that any gaming machines introduced in the future into a redeveloped casino would be subject to $2 bet limits. The industry has indicated that there may be some challenges in implementing lower limits on existing machines; and, while there are undoubtedly challenges, it is the government’s view that it is time to work hard to reduce the potential harm of gaming machines by setting a lower maximum bet limit.

Of course this is the situation in all other jurisdictions except for New South Wales and the ACT. I note Mr Parton’s remarks about people simply going over the border to Queanbeyan. It is a bit of a theme of some of the policy discussions we have had in this place, that Mr Parton comes here and says, “Well, New South Wales has poor laws and poor policies so the ACT should accept that standard.” That is what he is saying, because he is opposing the bet limits that every other jurisdiction except New South Wales and the ACT have. Everyone else thinks that they are a good idea; but the industry lobby in New South Wales is particularly strong and Mr Parton suggests they are the standards we should be bound by. Well, I do not accept that argument; the ACT can and should do better.

These measures are harm minimisation measures. They are not saying you cannot play a poker machine; they are simply saying these machines are designed in a way that is problematic for some people in our community. We know that there are ways to minimise that harm. Measures can be put in place to limit that harm whilst still enabling poker machines to operate in this territory.

The parliamentary and governing agreement includes a specific commitment to introduce $5 bet limits and $100 load-up limits. To borrow a phrase, it won’t happen overnight, but it will happen. We will consider the technical issues and develop a staged rollout for the implementation of these reduced limits, with the rollout starting by the end of 2022 at the latest. The transition plan will take into account the need to manage impacts on clubs, particularly smaller clubs that upgrade machines less frequently.

The government will establish a rigorous, across scheme, new self-exclusion regime across the ACT and there will be significant penalties for breaches. In developing this regime we will look at aligning with or exceeding reforms that are currently progressing in New South Wales and we will make sure to exceed other harm reduction reforms in New South Wales, such as cashless gaming, with appropriate safeguards.

Clubs have previously raised concerns about the planning system. Under the parliamentary and governing agreement, we have committed to consider how we can facilitate planning and other processes to support clubs in their efforts to diversify their revenue streams. The government is already undertaking a major review of the planning system which is addressing some of the issues raised by clubs. Minister Gentleman is progressing that work at the moment, and members will have seen the papers released earlier this week.

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