Pokies reform meeting in Tamworth

LOCAL clubs say they are pleased government representatives have met with them to discuss poker machine reform, but are dissatisfied more information has not come to light.

“I thought the meeting was productive, still a lot of questions have gone unanswered,” Wests Entertainment Group chief executive officer Rod Laing said.

These included the costs of the pre-commitment systems and questions surrounding compliance, including what would happen to smaller clubs who struggled to abide by the new laws.

Mr Laing said one of the specific concerns of Wests was whether the voluntary pre-commitment systems Wests’ League Club and Diggers introduced about 12 months ago for “many thousands of dollars” would be compliant with the new incoming rules.

This question could not be answered, he said, but he felt the concern was taken on board.

Mr Laing said he supported voluntary pre-commitment systems for pokies, but did not support the introduction of “exorbitant, extra costs unnecessarily”.

He said the government had quoted a ballpark figure of about $2000 per machine but industry figures suggested it would be closer to $9000, which he believed would make compliance out of reach for many.

Uralla Bowling and Recreation Club chief executive officer Fred Geldof said with 22 machines, the club might be able to meet the costs over four years if they were at the lower end of the scale, but it would be “impossible” to pay for the new systems if final figures fell at the other end.

Representatives from the government’s Problem Gambling Taskforce visited the club to see its workings firsthand and Mr Geldof said he was disappointed they still could not provide a costing framework.

He said there was a general dissatisfaction among club representatives with the lack of cost information, but was grateful for the visit to his club.

“I can only hope they continue this proactive communication,” Mr Geldof said.

Mr Laing said he appreciated the officials attended the meeting, and thanked New England MP Tony Windsor – who organised it – for his support.

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