Canberra Casino Unlikely to be Approved for 500 Pokies
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr that made it clear that the bid by Canberra Casino for a license to operate 500 poker machines will not be approved as it is. He announced that the number of machines listed was too high, but did not state whether fewer machines would be licensed or the bid rejected outright.
Currently pubs and clubs have a monopoly on poker machine licenses in the city with 5,000 machines operated between them all. However, as part of a $330 million upgrade of Canberra Casino by the new owners, the Aquis Group, a license to operate pokies has been submitted. The upgrade will include development of the casino and its grounds, as well as the convention centre.
Mr Barr stated that the cabinet had rejected the number; however he said that the government was still considering the details of the bid carefully and would make their final decision public once they have told the casino of the outcome.
According to Barr, if any number of poker machines are licensed to operate in the casino, the casino would be required to pay higher taxes than clubs, to contribute more to the community than clubs and to put into place additional harm minimisation measures than those required by clubs.
However, he did recognise that “there are certainly elements of the bid that have merit and that will create new jobs.”
The clubs; however, are fighting hard to maintain their monopoly and prevent the government licensing the casino to operate poker machines, saying that if pokies are allowed into the casino, clubs will be forced to close.
If Aquis is approved to take the bid to the next level, the company would be required to submit a detailed business plan.
April 16, 2017