Australian Capital Passes Gaming Reforms

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The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) has introduced gaming reforms that are set to have a major impact on the Territory’s clubs and gaming venues.

The ACT Legislative Assembly has approved the Gaming Legislation Amendment Bill 2018, that will force clubs to give up some of their poker machine licenses from next April. The Bill is designed to achieve the aim of reducing the number of poker machines allowed in the ACT to 4,000 by 2020.

Under the terms of the new Bill, the state’s sports, social and cultural clubs will be required to surrender 20 percent of their poker machines on two dates: April 1, 2019 and April 30, 2020, reducing the total number of machines in ACT by 1,000; a key election pledge by the ruling Labour Party.

The Bill, which was introduced at the beginning of November, also increases the level of net gaming revenue to be given to community causes by 0.8 percent. As of January 1, all clubs will be required to hand over 8.8 percent of revenue, of which 8 percent has to be given to recreational, social or cultural projects, organizations that deal with substance misuse or addiction or organizations involved in women’s’ sport or disaster relief.

Declare Political Donations

Clubs will also be restricted in their use of funds. As a result of a report into the distribution of poker machine revenue, which found that the majority of funds were being used to sponsor sports teams, that sponsorship will no longer be legal, under the terms of the Bill. It will also require all clubs to declare any political donations, which would be capped at 2 percent for larger clubs.

The Bill further requires that of the remaining 0.8 percent of poker machine revenue, half must be used to help fund gambling addiction treatment programs, supplementing the 0.75 percent Problem Gambling Assistance Levy to which clubs are already subject.

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