The ACT Government has received a lot of criticism from Canberra Clubs after it decided to approve Hong Kong based Acquis Entertainment’s request to grant 200 pokie licenses for the Canberra Casino. The government has now given the casino more freedom after approving multi-terminal table games and extending semi-automated table games.

Before the $14 million makeover of the Canberra Casino, only table games were permitted and semi-automated table gaming was limited to rapid roulette. The casino will now be able to offer its patrons individual screens where they can play games such as sic bo, roulette and baccarat. The Canberra casino now has approval to operate 50 multi-terminal games and up to 22 semi-automated table games for rapid roulette.

The ACT government has also approved a new legislation last week that reduces the number of payout signs a casino has to display near its poker machines. Interstate visitors will also be able to visit clubs without requiring another club member to make the introduction. The government has made all of these changes at a critical time as the ACT Gambling and Racing Commission has been forced to reduce its staff by 28 percent when compared to the same period in 2015.

The government did not make an announcement concerning the new regulations on expand semi-automated games and multi-terminal games but instead chose to publish the information via a notifiable instrument on the legislation register. The approval of more automated games at the casino will result in a reduction of casino staff as a significant percentage of the gambling floor will be filled with automated machines.

Charles Livingstone, a gambling expert from Monash University stated that slot machines have turned into the bread and butter for casino operators and it was no surprise that table games were also moving in the same direction as they facilitated faster and a continuous gambling experience. However Livingstone also stated that the new trend of increasing automated machines on the gambling floor will not be successful in attracting VIP gamblers.

In a statement, Livingstone said “My sense is that they are likely to be quite dangerous devices and they’re certainly not the kind of thing that’s going to attract your high-rollers and exotic gamblers. James Packer is not going to drop into Canberra Casino in his Aston Martin and play automated table games.”

Francis Markham, a gambling researcher from the Australian National University stated that an increase in automated gambling machines would result in a reduction in jobs. Markham stated that as now there wasn’t sufficient research to predict if automated or semi-automated table games were more addictive than traditional casino tables.