By Ian Neubauer
A Sydney Councillor warned hoteliers of imminent Federal legislation that will limit or reverse the proliferation of gaming machines during his address at the Licensing, Gaming and Hospitality Conference at the Sydney Marriott Hotel.
City of Sydney councillor John McInerney said NSW’s dependence on gaming taxes had become a bone of contention for the Rudd Government and other public stakeholders, describing it as a gravy train that would soon peter out.
“I think there will be a lot of changes in gaming whether the industry likes it or not,” he said.
McInerney, an architect and town planner who was a driving force behind last year’s push for development of the state’s new Liquor Act, bemoaned Sydney’s loss of family-run local hotels offering live entertainment in favour of large-format venues run by major corporations like Woolworths and Coles.
“A cultural and social push to reclaim drinking society from the beer barns has taken off. Sydney is not the picture painted by the AHA,” McInerney said, referring to AHA NSW president John Thorpe’s infamous 2007 comments in which he described Melbourne’s thriving small bar culture as the exclusive dominion of ‘Chardonnay-sipping beatniks’ that Sydneysiders would categorically deny.
McInerney added the city was not ideologically opposed to large late-trading venues, citing its support for Ivy’s 24-hour license at a time when Sydney Police were fighting to stop the project.
“Our support for Ivy shows we are not one-sided and support vitality when we see it emerging from new venues,” he said.
McInerney’s presentation was part of an industry discussion on liquor licensing overhaul chaired by compare Libbi Gore at the inaugural Licensing, Gaming and Hospitality Conference.
Rothworx conference and event producer, Andrew Vallentine, said his event company launched the conference in response to growing demand for education in liquor licensing.
“The pertinence of this conference coincides with the legal changes in NSW licensing, so it’s an excellent opportunity for professional updates for anyone involved in the industry,” he said.
The new NSW Liquor Act will come into effect on July 1.