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NSW disappointed in Federal pokies bill



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George Souris MP

Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Hospitality and Racing Minister for the Arts

MEDIA RELEASE

Friday 2 November, 2012

NSW DISAPPOINTED IN FEDERAL POKIES BILL

The NSW Government is disappointed that the Federal Government has not kept its promise to consult with States and Territories before introducing legislation regarding poker machines, Minister for Hospitality, George Souris said.

Mr Souris said that the Gillard Government has introduced the legislation to appease independent Andrew Wilkie and the policy appeared to change when there was a change of Speaker.

“At a meeting of the Council Of Australian Governments (COAG) in May last year, the NSW Government joined other States and Territories in unanimously supporting voluntary pre-commitment, but opposing the mandatory pre-commitment scheme,” Mr Souris said.

“The Federal Government promised to consult with the States and Territories before introducing any pre-commitment legislation, but that has not happened.

“The Commonwealth's Bill contains provisions that establish its own regulatory compliance framework in relation to gaming machines which are licenced by the State.

This was done without first consulting with NSW and is not in the spirit of the COAG process. Therefore, there are unresolved issues regarding the State's existing compliance responsibilities and the cost of the additional Commonwealth compliance regime.

“NSW, as a matter of principle, cannot support the Bill until those matters are properly considered at a COAG meeting where all jurisdictions can consider this national approach unilaterally imposed by the Commonwealth.

“The introduction of the Bill has also taken registered clubs by surprise and they have expressed their own concerns about costs and timelines.

Mr Souris said the Federal Government was ignoring the burgeoning, unsupervised gambling market on the internet, exposing not only problem gamblers, but underage gamblers; an area where it actually does have jurisdiction.

He stressed that the NSW Government was committed to implementing proven effective measures designed with the clear objective of minimising gambling-related harm.

“Recently I announced that the NSW Government was calling for tenders valued at over $48 million for organisations to provide high quality and free counselling and support services for NSW problem gamblers over the next four years.

“Poker machines are already highly regulated by the States. The Federal Government should concentrate on regulating other forms of gambling and that’s why NSW supports a more effective prohibition of online gambling and better regulation of the broadcasting of betting odds during live sporting telecasts”.

Media: Norm Lipson 0467 734 679