WESTS Entertainment Group chief executive officer Rod Laing says a decision to give clubs and pubs with more than 20 poker machines an extra two years to install the pre-commitment technology will give venues breathing room.
Mr Laing has praised the work of independent member for New England Tony Windsor in helping to get the extension, saying that clubs would have faced a big uphill battle if the extension hadn’t been granted.
He said “common sense hadn’t prevailed” in the form of the extension and suggested if the wish hadn’t been granted, some pubs and clubs would face huge – and in some cases dire – financial losses.
Mr Laing said some smaller clubs with only a few machines over the 20-machine cap might discuss whether it was worth keeping additional machines or move back to under 20 to save money.
“The announcement of those extra two years takes the sting out of what could be a very expensive exercise,” Mr Laing said.
The technology costs may force some clubs out of having machines.
For clubs like Wests in Tamworth, which undertook a process to install $800,000 pre-commitment technology in March last year, more detail about the extension would be helpful, he said.
“Hopefully in that extension period more investigation will be done into the technology that might be used to add the pre-commitment programs to existing machines,” he said.
“That would be the preferred option, especially for clubs with a large number of machines.”
In the event new machines were needed, Mr Laing said the reforms could cost millions.
“A new machine is about $23,000 to $25,000 to install,” he said.
With the announcement of the extra two years came a commitment to work with the venues that would be impacted by the reform, and if possible, keep installation costs to a minimum.
Mr Laing said for Wests this promise was important.
“We need to know if the $800,000 in technology we have spent is in line with the reform, because obviously if it’s not, that will be a huge waste,” he said.