Cutting number of pokies with new surrender incentive

To support Canberra’s community clubs while reducing the harm caused by pokie machines, the ACT Government will provide $15,000 for each gaming machine authorisation surrendered by gaming machine licensees in the ACT.

The ACT Government will invest $1.74 million into a new surrender incentive, which will cut the number of gaming machine authorisations by up to 116. Where all the authorisation certificates for a venue surrendered and the venue becomes ‘pokie-free’, the incentive payment is increased to $20,000 per authorisation.

These incentive payments will be available through to 31 December 2022 unless the fund is exhausted earlier.

Minister for Gaming Shane Rattenbury said the surrender incentive is an integral component of the ACT Government’s commitment to reduce the number of poker machines in the Territory while supporting the sustainability of clubs.

“Community clubs should be a safe place for families and vulnerable people to meet and connect, but the exposure and access to electronic gaming machines can cause harm in our community,” Minister Rattenbury said.

“More than 15,000 Canberrans have experienced harm from their own gambling, and 43,000 Canberrans have had a family member with gambling issues.

“Our community clubs play an important role in the social life of many Canberrans, so we want to continue supporting our clubs while reducing the harm from pokies, and I believe these surrender incentive payments can assist to achieve that.

“This initiative is a great incentive to create pokie-free venues for Canberrans to enjoy and reduce the harm caused by exposure and access to electronic gaming machines.”

The ACT Government will work with the Community Clubs Ministerial Advisory Council as well as individual licensed premises to review the effectiveness of the incentive payments.

The 10th Parliamentary and Governing Agreement committed to reducing the number of gaming machine authorisations in the ACT down to 3,500 by 1 July 2025. This follows from the 9th Parliamentary Agreement, which reduced the number from more than 5000 down to just under 4000.

The payments build on the financial support which the ACT Government provided under the COVID 19 Surrender Incentive which was in place from April 2020 to June 2021.

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