By Amelia Ball
NSW gaming reforms introduced to Parliament this week will reduce poker machine numbers in the state by approximately five per cent and establish new measures to protect communities from problem gambling.
NSW Gaming and Racing Minister, Kevin Greene, introduced the reforms on Monday (October 27) following a comprehensive review of the Gaming Machines Act 2001 tabled in Parliament late last year.
Greene said the changes will reduce the statewide cap on machines by 5000, with a new mechanism for ongoing reductions. The current NSW machine cap stands at 104,000.
In addition, red tape will be cut to encourage poker machine forfeitures that could further reduce poker machines by another 3000 over the next five years.
Credit card withdrawals from ATMs and EFTPOS facilities would be banned in gaming venues, with fines of up to $11,000, while a new Local Impact Assessment would restrict poker machine numbers in high density gaming Local Government Areas (LGA).
The new measures have been welcomed by The Gaming Technologies Association, with CEO Ross Ferrar saying the organisation had provided a submission into the process and were happy with the outcome.
“It seems to be an appropriately evidence-based approach and we’re always going to support that,” he said.
Ferrar added that gaming machine numbers and the link to problem gambling is a complex issue and needs to be considered on a case by case scenario.
“For example, there are three million adults in Queensland and the same number of adults in New Zealand. At the end of June, New Zealand had 19,856 machines in clubs and hotels, while Queensland had 41,655. But Queensland has one of the lowest rates of problem gambling in the region,” he said.
“NSW has about double the machines of other states, but the same rate of problem gambling.”
Ferrar said the new reforms are for the good of the hospitality industry and addressing the issues involved.
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