The Victorian Government has approved an auction of the state’s poker machine licences while agreeing to a number of amendments that aim to protect smaller venues and reduce problem gambling.

Operators of licensed premises across the state will be able to bid for their own poker machine licences, with the Tattersalls and Tabcorp duopoly set to end in 2012.

The move is expected to result in more than $2.5 billion in revenue for the Victorian Government.

In a bid to assist smaller sporting and community clubs, which feared they would be outbid by the bigger operations, licences will be equally split between clubs and pubs, with regional Victoria to be allocated a minimum 20 per cent of all machines.

Gamblers will also face voluntary restrictions in an attempt to curb problem gambling, with ATMs also to be banned in all venues with machines – except Crown Casino, racecourses and remote areas with no ATMs nearby.

Existing clubs with gaming machines will have the chance to buy entitlements up to the number of machines already in place, although this is capped at 40.

The price of an entitlement will also be based on a fixed percentage of the revenue of a club’s annual average revenue per machine.

By 2015, pre-commitment facilities will be in place to allow players to set limits on the time they take and money they spend on poker machines, which won’t be compulsory but available for players who choose to take more control over their spending.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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