By Ian Neubauer and Amelia Ball

Licensed premises in Victoria will be able to apply for gaming machine entitlements under ten-year licenses after 2012, when the duopoly between Tabcorp and Tatts Group will come to an end.

A four-year review of the state’s gambling industry climaxed yesterday when the Victorian Government announced it would move to a new industry structure under which hoteliers would have the opportunity to own and operate electronic gaming machines.

The total number of poker machines in Victoria will remain at 27,500 under the new regime. The quota will be divided evenly between clubs and pubs with a cap to prevent any single operator from owning more than 35 per cent of the machines available to hotels.

The announcement sent shockwaves through the stock market yesterday, leading Tabcorp and Tatts Group to request halt trading as nervous investors attempted to dump the companies’ shares.

Tabcorp chairman John Story said he was deeply disappointed with the decision, claiming Tabcorp has maintained high ethical standards and set global benchmarks in the introduction of responsible gaming measures over the past 14 years.

Story also said the company would take action to recoup the original $597 million license fee, claiming the Victorian Government was obligated to refund the fee.  

"Tabcorp’s 216,000 shareholders, including 60,000 in Victoria, are relying on the government to honour its commitment,” he said.

The Shout Team

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

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