Victorian Parliament Extends Pokie Machine Licenses To 2042
The Victoria government recently announced that it had decided to extend the licenses of pokie machine operators till August 16, 2042 even though it faced a lot of opposition on the licensing issue.
The Gambling Regulation Amendment, which covers the extension of pokie machine licenses was passed by the Upper House last week.
These pokie machine operator licenses are valid until 2022 but there is also a provision for these licenses to be renewed in two 10 year periods, which means that these pokie machine licenses can be used till 2042.
The extended licensing scheme receive support from both the Labors and Liberals in the Lower House.
In addition to the extension of pokie machine licenses, the new legislation puts a cap on the number of machines that can operate in Victoria. No new machines can be added to the 27,372 existing pokie machines across the state. Local players will also be subjected to a cash withdrawal limit and gambling advertising will now be blocked in public spaces.
There were a number of opposition groups in Victoria who did not want the pokie machine licenses to be renewed and they campaigned hard to put an end to pokie machines. The Victorian Greens party had also called on legislatures to postpone making the decision in light of new investigations regarding Crown Melbourne casino’s rigged pokie machines and money laundering allegations.
Federal independent MP Andrew Wilkie came out in October with testimonies from whistleblowers claiming that Crown Melbourne casino tampered with its pokie machines and allowed suspicious player activity to continue. The Victorian Commission for Gaming and Liquor Regulation has since launched a probe into the casino’s operations and pokie machines.
A Women Against Pokies rally was held last month in front of the Parliament and was headlined by a number of well-known and influential women in Victoria who spoke about the dangers of pokie addiction. Victorian MP Fiona Patten was one of those women who stood up to fight to oppose pokie machines.
During her talk, Patten called for the votation on the Gambling Regulation Amendment to be delayed until 2018. She also called for Victoria to lower the current $5 maximum to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)’s recommendation of $1 maximum bets, a ban on cashless payments, a $200 limit on eftpos withdrawals, and a reduction on pokie opening hours to 16 hours per day.
Pokie machines continue to generate a massive amount of revenue for gambling operators. The Australian gaming industry generated around A$23 billion each year and pokie machines are responsible for generating more than 50 percent of this amount.