The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) government’s decision to award Hong Kong based Acquis Entertainment 200 pokie licenses for their Canberra casino has not gone down well with the clubs in Canberra as prior to the government’s ruling, they ran very profitable pokie operations.
A number of clubs now fear that they will soon go out of business as they will find it difficult to complete with Casino Canberra. ACT Clubs has decided to launch a new campaign against the casino and the ruling government for granting them 200 pokie machine licenses. Clubs ACT has now called upon its 200,000 members to come together and voice their displeasure at the decision to allow pokie machines in the casino.
Clubs ACT sent out a message which said “Barr’s decision to help out the Hong Kong-owned casino has dire impacts on your club, the locals it employs and the community and sporting groups it supports.” Clubs ACT has asked all of its members to post the following message on drink coasters, banners, posters and also send a direct mailout with the same message.
Not all of the clubs will participate in the new campaign as Tradies clubs linked to the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union and Labor Party owned clubs will most likely refrain from publishing or distributing any such material.
Gwyn Rees, the chief executive of Clubs ACT told clubs that the ACT government will introduce the new legislation in August and thereby allow casinos to operate pokie machines for the first time ever. Rees reminded clubs that that the government had broken its memorandum of understanding that it had with the clubs in Canberra and had now turned its back on all of the not for profit clubs.
While chief minister Andrew Barr did not respond directly to the new campaign, a representative for Barr stated that the clubs in Canberra had the power to keep pokie machines out of the casino as the legislation particularly specifies that Casino Canberra cannot purchase any new pokie machines but will have to acquire the 200 pokie machines from the clubs directly.
However Gwyn Rees has also highlighted the fact that the government had introduced a number of new regulations for clubs to follow that were unfair to them. A couple of these new regulations include significantly raising liquor licensing fees for late-night venues who serve liquor after 3 am. The government will require clubs to pay a 4 fold increase in their liquor licensing fees which Rees feels will severely hurt the profits of the Canberra clubs.
The second concern is that clubs will now have to pay higher water charges if they use more than 548 lires. Clubs used to pay A$1.05 per kilolitre in 2004 but will now have to shell out A$5.22 a kilolitre in 2016 if they exceed the 548 lires.