ACT approves multi-terminal gaming at Casino Canberra

by Noah Taylor Last Updated
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Casino Canberra New PokiesIn a reversal of longstanding policy, the ACT government recently approved Casino Canberra’s request to operate so-called “multi-terminal” gaming.

Additionally, Casino Canberra will now be able to offer additional table game formats in the “semi-automated” format.

Previous to this ruling, Casino Canberra was unable to offer multi-terminal gaming – which allows gamblers to toggle between roulette, baccarat, and sic bo on a single automated screen – while the venue’s selection of semi-automated games was limited to Rapid Roulette only.

Going forward, Casino Canberra is now approved to operate up to 50 multi-terminal games, along with 22 semi-automated versions of Rapid Roulette and other table games.

The semi-automated concept of casino table gambling maintains the presence of a human dealer, who spins the roulette wheel, deals the cards in baccarat, or tumbles the dice in sic bo.

For multi-terminal gambling, players simply operate an interface similar to that found on pokies or video poker machines, with only superficial oversight from a human dealer standing nearby.

In a statement, Monash University gambling expert Charles Livingstone warned that expansion of semi-automated gambling could exacerbate addiction issues, while failing to expand the venue’s appeal to high-rolling international patrons:

“My sense is that they are likely to be quite dangerous devices and they’re certainly not the kind of thing that’s going to attract your high-rollers and exotic gamblers. James Packer is not going to drop into Canberra Casino in his Aston Martin and play automated table games,” he said.

The expansion in services continues a rapid renovation for Casino Canberra, which also secured approval from the ACT government in May to operate 200 poker machines, following a hotly contested legal battle with local club owners who opposed the move.

The decision to grant Casino Canberra authorisation to house poker machines represented a fundamental shift in policy for the ACT government, which previously limited pokie operation to locally owned clubs.

The property’s overall push to secure approval for an expanded selection of casino gambling options is one part of new ownership group Aquis Entertainment’s restructuring plan for Casino Canberra, one which includes a $330 million proposal to renovate and redevelop both the casino itself, and the surrounding urban area.

Casino Canberra recently reopened following $14 million in renovations, debuting an expanded gaming floor to capitalize on the pokie and multi-terminal gaming approvals.

While the ACT government has not officially commented on the recent decision, Greens’ Shane Rattenbury expressed his concern over the concept of automation to The Canberra Times:

“While these recent changes refer to semi-automated games, which still involve oversight from one staff member across a number of machines, I would be concerned if the casino was moving to automate more and more machines,” he said.

Historically, the introduction of semi-automated and multi-terminal gambling machines in other casinos across Australia resulted in a reduction in staffing and job contraction. Indeed, Australian National University gambling researcher Francis Markham released a statement following the move in which he said positions at Casino Canberra would necessarily be cut in subsequent months.

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