New Northern Territory Government Considers Cap on Pokies
The new Northern Territory Labor Government is considering re-introducing a cap on the number of poker machines in the territory. The decision is expected to be made following the release of a survey on the prevalence of gambling at the beginning of next year.
Fifteen months ago, the Country Liberal Party Government lifted Labor’s moratorium on new poker machine licenses and increased the venue limit from 20 to 55 machines. Since that time, the Director General for Licensing has approved an additional 444 machines for pubs and clubs in the NT.
The government, however, commissioned a gambling prevalence survey following concerns over social issues from problem gambling that have arisen, with Attorney General Natasha Fyles saying that scrapping the cap without such a survey was “shortsighted.” The survey is due to be completed by early 2017 and will impact the decision of reinstating the cap which the new Labor government that came into power last month has indicated they are interested in doing.
“The cap was introduced following community concern about the proliferation of the number of electronic gaming machines in the community and was based on the number of machines operating at the time,” stated Ms Fyles.
“A gambling prevalence survey undertaken in the first part of this year is being analysed by the researchers and it is anticipated that a final report will be available in early 2017. This will give the government more information as the effectiveness of the cap.”
A study performed before the removal of the cap showed that in 2014-15, $244 million was spent on gambling in the Northern Territory, and this was $20 million more than the year before. Total expenditure on gaming machines was $82.6 million in the NT, the second lowest amount in Australia per capita after Tasmania.
March 27, 2017