Queensland Councils are calling for greater input in the allocation and distribution of EGMs, as gaming revenue in the state’s pubs and clubs continues to climb.
The annual Local Government Association of Queensland conference saw a vote of 118 to 73 in favour of a motion to Government requesting say in the approval of gaming machines. Stakeholders seek to make the placement of the machines an issue of land use, bringing Council control.
Allocation of EGM permits in Queensland is the responsibility of the Office of Liquor & Gaming Regulation (OLGR). Applications to increase the number of machines by fewer than 20 does not require an offer of input by Council or notification to the community.
The number of gaming machines in the State is capped at 19,500 for hotels and 24,705 for clubs, reportedly turning over $2.3bn in revenue last year. Government recording shows tax revenue for FY17 of $687 million. The numbers represent one machine per 113 people.
By comparison NSW has 22,835 machines in pubs and 69,242 in clubs. While this is a higher concentration at one pokie per 87 people, NSW machines turn over $1.25bn, generating $421m tax for the Government.
Councils accuse the State government of being ‘hooked’ on the tax revenue, while they claim to face more of the downstream costs of problem gambling.
A spokesperson for the Department of State Development affirmed there are no intentions to change the planning laws to classify gaming machines by land use.