The Andrews Government has announced an overhaul of state laws providing longer licences and more lenient ownership limits but also placed a freeze on the number of EGM ‘s in Victoria for the next 25 years.
The reforms include the extension of poker machine entitlements to 20 years with the change coming in response to long-standing industry complaints that the existing 10-year period, due to expire in 2022, has made it too difficult for operators to plan their business and obtain finance.
Many in the sector had been hoping for venues to have their licences held in perpetuity – as is the case in most other states – but operators consider the new 20-year licence a significant win.
Under the changes, licence holders will now automatically keep their existing licences until 2032 provided they make a payment to the government in 2022 to get the extension.
Community Clubs Victoria, whose members include nearly 200 clubs with pokies, said the change provided greater certainty for clubs “as they plan developments for their sporting and community facilities”.
Also unveiled in the plan was a 25-year freeze on the cap on the number of gaming machines, at 27,372. The 2500 machines at Crown are not factored into the cap.
A limit of 105 machines for each individual venue will remain in place, however, the number of poker machines Victorian Club operators are allowed to run has doubled from 420 to 840. This means clubs can now run eight separate venues, up from the current four.
Other reforms included in the review include:
- Giving venue operators the opportunity to acquire post-August 2022 entitlements up to the number of entitlements they held on 7 July 2017 through an administrative allocation process, rather than a competitive process.
- Adjusting the 50:50 rule to aid the allocation of unused club entitlements to hotels.
- Premium payments for entitlements will be determined based on a venue’s gaming revenue.
- Making current gaming machine taxation arrangements more progressive in nature.
The allocation process is expected to be finalised by the end of 2017.
Sources: smh. com.au / Vanessa Cavasinni, editor Australian Hotelier