Australian retail group Wesfarmers says it is not ruling out exiting the EGM business should the government fail to push through a $1 per spin limit to poker machines nationwide.
“We had a conversation at board level about this and there’s a really strong desire from both Wesfarmers and Coles to move this along and I’m hopeful this will happen,” stated Wesfarmers chief executive, Richard Goyder on ABC’s The Business.
When asked if the company would consider selling its poker machines, Goyder said: “We need that legislation to change and it’s fair to say we’ll look at all options, but at the end of the day we are a good operator and an ethical operator of these businesses and we should be allowed to trial $1 spin limits in line with the Productivity Commission recommendations.”
“…if we can’t do that, we’ll look at other options,” he said.
Wesfarmers inherited a large gambling business when it bought Coles in 2007, including a swag of Queensland hotels bought in order to compete against rival Woolworths in the liquor business.
“The reason we’re in pokies is that legislation in Queensland mandates that to retail liquor, you have to own hotels,” he said.
Wesfarmers rival Woolworths is the biggest poker machine operator in the country and has not shown interest in pushing for $1 machines.
Coles currently own around 2,740 poker machine licenses.
Coles has been in communication with long-time anti-gambling campaigners senator Nick Xenophon and MP Andrew Wilkie. Mr Wilkie also featured on the ABC program.
Sources: abc.net.au / agbrief.com