Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Poker machine legislation change rings alarm bells

Administrators of clubs and hotels in Cobram and Barooga are concerned about new legislation that will require all pokie machines in Australia to be upgraded by 2016.

RANDALL JOHNSTON November 12, 2012 4:00am

Administrators of clubs and hotels in Cobram-Barooga are concerned about new legislation that will require all pokie machines in Australia to be upgraded by 2016.

Barooga Sports Club chief executive Greg Ryan says he supports the Federal Government’s plan for pokie machines to offer users a voluntary pre-commitment option.

However, he has said the 2016 deadline will put tremendous financial pressure on clubs that will have to replace all of their machines in the next four years.

‘‘We’re against mandatory pre-commitment, but voluntary pre-commitment is all good,’’ Mr Ryan said.

Although he welcomes the change, Mr Ryan is concerned that the 2016 deadline will be problematic and extremely costly, especially for rural clubs to achieve in such a tight time frame.

‘‘I’ve worked out some figures and it will cost us $6.6million over the next four years,’’ he said.

‘‘That makes it very hard for clubs. The timeline is just a bit prohibitive and other areas (new projects, upgrades and initiatives clubs are trying to get of the ground) will suffer as a result — with all the money going towards upgrading the machines.’’

The average cost of replacing a single pokie machine is $25000.

This new legislation means all machines must offer the gambler the option of pre-setting a limit which, if reached, locks them out for 24 hours.

The obvious question that arises is what stops the avid punter simply using another machine?

Another issue Mr Ryan feels strongly about is the limiting of ATM withdrawals at clubs that have pokie machines to $250.

‘‘That is also a bit of a restriction, especially for country areas where there are not many ATMs (and businesses that don’t have Eftpos),’’ he said.

Mr Ryan said visitors from out of town needed to access money during their stay and Barooga does not have a bank.

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