In South Australia, the government is working hard to change the way in which pokies are regulated, in order to promote responsible gambling. However, the Liberals want to make some amendments to the proposed reform, and Premier Jay Weatherill is not on board with any of the changes. The new reforms would see pokie clubs categorized as ‘major’ and ‘minor’ venues.
Major clubs would be permitted to install up to 60 machines as long as they also impose a number of responsible gambling measures. Minor clubs would have to reduce their number of pokies to 20 or less, and they would have derive the majority of their income from food, accommodation and other sources. The aim of the reform is to ensure that large gaming clubs ensure that players gamble responsibly.
They would have to install pre-commitment software, impose $250 limits on their ATMs and halve the maximum wager for the games. While this sounds like an effective plan, the Liberals are not impressed. According to Opposition spokesperson Iain Evans, the new amendments will only benefit large scale gaming operators such as Woolworths.
Community pokie clubs may not have the money to upgrade to ‘major’ status, so they would fail to compete with larger clubs owned by operators with more money. The Liberals have suggested the idea of scrapping the plan for the ‘major’ clubs. Club owners are even opposed to the plan. Bill Cochrane of Clubs SA recognizes that the reform has the potential to cause closure of community clubs. "You've sold us out,” he says.
Weatherill is not pleased with the amendments that have been suggested by the Liberals. He states that they will compromise the responsible gambling measures that are aimed at improving the gaming market. If the Liberals’ amendments are not accepted, however, up to 60 community clubs could be shut down.