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Anti-gambling groups welcome Vic Govt pokie m -

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Anti-gambling groups welcome Vic Govt pokie move

The World Today - Thursday, 10 April , 2008 12:25:00

Reporter: Rachael Brown

BRENDAN TREMBATH: The Victorian Government has moved to break the stranglehold over the state's
gaming industry by scrapping the duopoly in the supply of poker machines.

When the licences to run poker machines expire in 2012, venue operators will be able to bid
directly for gaming machine licences.

Anti-gambling groups have welcomed the move, saying it's a positive step towards tackling community
gaming problems.

Rachael Brown reports.

RACHAEL BROWN: The move ends the strangleholds that gaming giants Tattersalls and TabCorp have had
over the Victorian industry for decades.

When their licences to run poker machines expire in four years, venue operators, including
not-for-profit sporting and community clubs, can bid for licences to run the machines themselves.

The Victorian Premier, John Brumby, says the model will help the industry move with the times.

JOHN BRUMBY: One which is more in touch with local communities. More connected to local
communities. It will offer those who want to play the machines more choice. There will be more
diversity and more competition and as you've probably just pointed out there on air, this is, the
new model is about venues, not about operators.

RACHAEL BROWN: The number of poker machines will remain at 27,500.

Mr Brumby says there'll be separate licences for horse wagering, gaming and Keno.

He knows Tattersalls and TabCorp might look at setting up joint ventures with pub companies, but
says there'll be a 35 per cent cap in the hotels sector to prevent future strangleholds.

JOHN BRUMBY: No one venue owner can own more than 35 per cent so you're going to move from a system
which was 50-50 to one which there will literally be dozens of, in fact hundreds of owners of
venues in the future.

RACHAEL BROWN: Margaret Kearney from Clubs Victoria has welcomed the announcement saying
not-for-profit clubs will be able to play a bigger role in their own survival.

MARGARET KEARNEY: We hope that it will result in gaming machine revenue returning directly, more
directly and more of it to the community-based organisations and to the community from which the
revenue is raised.

RACHAEL BROWN: She says the new model won't solve problem gambling, but says it's a healthy step
forward.

MARGARET KEARNEY: Other jurisdictions that have venue-based gaming also have the same and sometimes
more, higher levels or higher problem gambling than we do. But it puts the clubs in a good position
to consider the harm minimisation processes.

RACHAEL BROWN: Reverend Tim Costello agrees it won't end the problem but the spokesman for the
Interchurch Gambling Taskforce says the changes will reduce a lot of the pressures on players who
pursue profit from gambling addicts.

TIM COSTELLO: Fifty-three cents in every dollar comes from an addict, so 53 per cent of people, of
the profits come from addicts.

When you've got Tatts and Tabcorp actually also with their duopoly - really a licence to print
money, ridiculous profits - ah, chasing their bit. Moving machines to get the maximum value, you've
got another set of pressures in addition to a state government that wants their bit and clubs and
venues that want their bit and Tatts and Tabcorp are a long way removed from the club or the pub.

They don't have the personal relationship um, and don't really need to encourage responsible
gambling. That's why I think cutting out one player and its set of pressures and, and, and its cut
is good.

RACHAEL BROWN: Tim Costello welcomes the axing of the duopoly, but says he'll only be happy when
the machines themselves are changed.

TIM COSTELLO: At the moment, we've got the crack cocaine pokies. They're the fastest spin rates in
the world, the greatest losses. Most of the old ladies and others, who play responsibly, they don't
care whether they are really fast and huge prizes. You know prizes under $1000 with a five-second
gap between the spin rates. A maximum $1 bet. You get the same pleasure.

That's what you're buying. Distraction time and pleasure.

RACHAEL BROWN: Premier Brumby knows the new model will hurt the gaming giants' share prices, but
says that's not his problem.

JOHN BRUMBY: I suspect they will be a little disappointed today but it's not my job to just go
round making companies happy. My job is go round putting in place what is the best public policy
for the people of Victoria.

RACHAEL BROWN: Tattersalls and TabCorp have made no comment about the announcement.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Rachael Brown reporting.