NEW England and Northern Tablelands club representatives will today meet with the federal government’s pokies experts to discuss the new pokies laws.
The historic meeting will be the first time that clubs have met with the representatives in charge of rolling out voluntary pre-commitment on the majority of poker machines by 2018.
About 70 clubs’ representatives are expected to sit in on the meeting, which is closed to the public and will also be attended by federal New England MP Tony Windsor.
Mr Windsor had played a huge role in securing local clubs additional time to comply with the cost of installing the new technology on their poker machines.
The new laws have not come without criticism.
North Tamworth Bowling Club chief executive officer Kristian Brooks said he had a number of questions regarding the legislation, namely the cost of installing the technology.
“The federal government has often claimed that the cost of introducing this technology will be just a couple of thousand dollars per machine, but that’s definitely not the opinion of poker machine manufacturers who are ultimately responsible for making and selling the technology,” he said.
Mr Brooks said the government had to explain the discrepancy of how clubs could be expected to install the technology, when almost three quarters of his club’s and the Tamworth Services Club’s poker machines were more than five years old.
“My advice has been that these machines are practically dinosaurs compared to the newer ones and will have to be replaced when the new law starts,” he said.
Clubs NSW chairman Peter Newell said clubs had a lot of questions about the legislation and how it would actually work. “This is an important opportunity for the federal government to address the concerns of local clubs,” he said.
Mr Newell said, thanks to Mr Windsor’s amendments, local clubs would hopefully avoid unintentionally breaching the law because they couldn’t afford to replace poker machines by the original 2016 deadline.
“The extra two years will be crucial in helping ensure the majority of clubs are able to comply with the law without having to make severe job cuts or slash donations to local community and sporting groups,” he said.