The ACT government will start forcing Canberra’s clubs to surrender their poker machine licences from April next year, as it reviews incentives for clubs to diversify their revenue streams.
Clubs have been largely in the dark for months about what the government’s specific plans were for reaching its 2016 election pledge of cutting the number of pokies in Canberra to 4000.
Since 2015, the government has operated a transfer scheme for clubs to trade machine licences, but it has seen only 37 pokies actually forfeited, with 4985 authorisations still available and 4549 machines still operating on gaming floors.
The government released a discussion paper late last year, laying out a number of options to reach the planned cap, with the first instalment of surrenders originally planned to start this month.
Instead, the government on Tuesday announced a review of clubs’ diversification away from poker machine revenue, to help identify potential new incentives for clubs to diversify.
The review will be led by Neville Stevens AO, a former Commonwealth departmental secretary, who will complete a “club industry diversification analysis” and give Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay recommendations.
Those recommendations will centre on options to give clubs financial and non-financial incentives to diversify their revenue away from poker machines, and a framework for specific agreements on such moves with individual clubs.
Mr Stevens is expected to report his findings to Mr Ramsay by the end of May this year, but it is unclear if the government will release the full report, with Mr Ramsay’s spokesman saying that would depend on the nature of the report.
But the terms of reference for Mr Stevens’ review show the government now intends to start forcing clubs to surrender their licences from April next year.
“Compulsory surrender of authorisations will commence from 1 April 2019, and the maximum number of authorisations in the ACT will reach 4,000 by 1 May 2020,” the document reads.
It remains unclear what the specific measures of the surrender program will be, or whether the government plans to compensate clubs for the machines they are forced to surrender, given the revenue they generate.
Clubs ACT chief executive Gwyn Rees backed the review and any help the government could provide to help diversify clubs’ revenue, but said the sector still faced “challenges”, including unlocking their land for redevelopment.
He said for some clubs, such redevelopment was key to “long-term sustainability”, while for others – particularly smaller ethnic, golf or bowls clubs – potential club mergers could be “key to their club’s survival”.
Mr Rees also said the boom in the capital’s hospitality sector in the past five years had created more challenges for clubs to “keep up pace and diversify their income streams, particularly in the areas of food and beverage”.
“Clubs who focus on reinvigorating their venues and staying relevant will be the clubs best equipped to navigate the changes ahead.”
Source: Canberra Times >>
VICTORIAN CLUBS REMINDED TO UPDATE DETAILS
The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) is reminding clubs to make sure they check that their club details are correct.
The VCGLR has recently come across a number of instances where clubs have forgotten to advise when their name has changed or their club structure has altered.
These important details must be registered with the VCGLR for clubs to remain compliant with their licence obligations.
Failure to update the VCGLR if the name of your club has changed, or if your club has made changes to its governance structure, can result in serious penalties.
It is the responsibility of any club with a liquor licence to manage your licence including making sure to notify the VCGLR of any changes.
Clubs can make changes to their licence details by following the process outlined on the VCGLR’s Vary my licence page.