In Gaming - Pokies by Clyde Mooney

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Victoria has capped numbers and tightened the regulations around poker machines, but much of the news is good for pub operators.

The Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation Marlene Kairouz announced new arrangements aimed to help “limit gambling-related harm”, but also to give increased certainty to venues in Victoria.

The changes will see gaming machine numbers capped at 27,372 for 25 years. But, the current 10-year term for holding an EGM permit, due to expire in 2022, will be increased to 20 years.

Permit holders will be required to make “premium payments” in 2022 and 2032, but these will be based on the venue’s revenue.

The number of machines in a pub is now frozen at a maximum of 105. The maximum number for Clubs doubles, from 420 to 840, however Clubs in Victoria do not possess the same level of dominance in gaming they do in NSW.

There will also be an adjustment to the 50:50 rule that may see unallocated Club entitlements granted to the hotel sector.

The VCGLR has confirmed to PubTIC that there are several hundred entitlements not attached to a gaming machine, as per the Act.

“[Under section 3.4A.23 and 3.4A.24 of the Gambling Regulation Act (2003)] there are 345 gaming machine entitlements held by venue operators with a club venue condition but not currently utilised,” said a spokesperson.

The Regulator also noted that none of the entitlements would be available to the hotel sector unless determined by the Minister.

Allocation of current permits is expected to be complete by the end of 2018, after which operators wishing to acquire more will have the opportunity to apply for any remaining.

Venue operators will again be given the opportunity to acquire additional entitlements when more become available in August 2022. However, the competitive process for this has been scrapped in favour of an administrative allocation process whereby operators can acquire up to the number they possessed on 7 July 2017.

The Justice department reports that the taxation of gaming revenue will also be modified toward a more progressive system.

There will be further measures relating to gaming machines announced in coming months, resulting from consultation with community and industry conducted earlier this year. Minister Kairouz believes the changes reflect community concerns and will be a step forward for Victorian hospitality.

“Not a single extra gaming machine will be allowed in Victoria for the next 25 years, helping limit gambling-related harm in our community.

“These reforms also provide certainty to pubs, clubs and hotels across Victoria, and have been informed by an extensive review that included more than 200 public submissions.”