The Federal Group’s monopoly on poker machines in Tasmania could end in 2023, with the Liberals pledging to put the right to operate poker machines outside casinos on the market.
A plan to introduce two new small casino licences in Tasmania also will clear the way for David Walsh to build his high-rollers’ casino at the Mona.
Treasurer Peter Gutwein said the government was ushering in a new standard in gaming policy that was more transparent and inclusive of community views.
But the policy was labelled “gutless” and a “sham” by the government’s political opponents, and it has upset those community & lobbyists groups who want poker machines out of suburban pubs.
Key features of the Liberals’ gaming blueprint include:
- Federal will keep the rights to run poker machines in casinos.
- The rights to operate poker machines in pubs and clubs after 2023 will be put out to tender.
- Two new licences for small “high-roller, non-residential” casinos will be released, one in the North and one in the South. Mona owner David Walsh will get first option on the southern licence.
- The number of gaming machines operating in Tasmania, 3530, will remain the same. The limit of 3680 machines will be lowered to 3530.
- The tax rates and licence fees for casino gaming and Keno will be reviewed against the broader Australian market.
- A public interest test will be included in decisions on applications for new machines in new locations.
- A joint parliamentary committee will conduct a public consultation process on gaming reform.
Mr Gutwein said the Liberals were “turning on its head” the previous approach to gaming in Tasmania. “This is a significant departure from what has occurred in this state in relation to gaming policy,” he said.
The State Government has been pressured to reveal its hand on the future of gaming in Tasmania since a high-rollers’ casino proposal from Mr Walsh kicked off negotiations with Federal about its licence.
Federal said it might agree to vary its agreement with the Government to allow Mr Walsh’s casino – if it could get its poker machine monopoly extended beyond 2023.