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NT government mulls cap on poker machines

Tue, Sep 13, 9:59am by Staff Writer

The new Northern Territory Labor government has mooted introducing a cap on poker machines.

A decision on whether to re-introduce a cap will be made following the result of a study into gambling behaviour in the NT.

Just 15 months ago, the previous CLP Government had ended a moratorium on new poker machine licenses, lifting venue restrictions to 20 and 55.

As a result, an additional 444 machines have been approved in clubs and pubs throughout the NT.

However, concerns over social issues arising from gambling saw the CLP commission a ‘gambling prevalence survey’ which is expected to released its findings early in 2017.

And the new government, which swept to power in elections held last month, has indicated that it would prefer to re-introduce a cap.

“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,” Attorney General Natasha Fyfes  told the NT News.

“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.”

The recently released Australian Gambling Report for 2014-15 revealed Territorians spent $244 million on gaming, a jump of $20 million from the previous year.

Those statistics, which were taken before the removal of the cap, identified NT’s total expenditure on gaming machines at $82.6 million, the second-lowest in Australia per capita behind only Tasmania.

A total of $1.18 billion was spent on gambling in the NT in 2014-15, however this number is distorted by the number of corporate bookmakers that operated under an NT license.

The study revealed $285 million of the $309 million spent in Australia on fixed odds bookmaking was spent with NT firms such as Sportsbet, William Hill, Crownbet and others.

As a Territory, rather than a state, the NT has different laws regarding gambling and licensing of bookmakers which has allowed it to become a hub of corporate bookmakers

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