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Pokies cash limits in the spotlight

Thu, Mar 28, 10:31am by Staff Writer

Premier Daniel Andrews supported a $500 per day cash withdrawal limit in Victorian pokies venues despite advice from his gaming minister and public servants that a lower limit was needed to reduce gambling harm.

The EFTPOS withdrawal limit was announced in 2017 as part of a package of gambling harm-minimisation reforms following the government’s controversial decision to extend the state’s existing pub and club poker machine entitlements from 2022 to 2042.

The Age has confirmed that the Department of Justice favoured a much lower limit, while Gaming Minister Marlene Kairouz had proposed a limit that government insiders say was $400.

The Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation, Marlene Kairouz, recently announced the appointment of Shane Lucas as Victoria’s new chief executive officer for the Responsible Gambling Foundation.

His appointment follows what Mirage News describes as an extensive national executive search and recruitment process undertaken by the Foundation’s Board between November 2018 and February 2019.

Mr Lucas has held senior management positions in the non-government, government and private sectors since 2000.

He served as the chief executive officer of Early Learning Association Australia from 2013 to 2017 and was most recently a full-time member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Between 2011 and 2016, Mr Lucas was an Advisory Board Member of Deakin University’s Master of Public Policy program.

He has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) from Monash University and a Diploma in Migration Law from Victorian University.

He is a graduate of the Victorian Leadership Development Centre and a Williamson Fellow of Leadership Victoria.

Mr Lucas commenced in his role as chief executive officer of the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation last Monday, taking over from interim chief executive officer Janet Dore, who led the Foundation for the past five months.

Labor a beneficiary of gaming industry money

News of the premier’s role in setting the higher limit follows revelations by The Age earlier this week that Victorian labor was the beneficiary of a $1 million gaming industry campaign in 2018 aimed primarily at denying the anti-pokies Greens the balance of power at the November state election.

The powerful Australian Hotels Association made its biggest ever gift of at least $500,000 to the ALP, gave about $300,000 to the Coalition parties and supported independents in electorates where the Greens were threatening, including in planning minister Richard Wynne’s marginal seat of Richmond.

Mr Andrews is regarded in business and ALP circles as a long-time friend of the liquor and gaming industry, especially the AHA, according to The Age.

Labor sources point to his time as a party functionary and fund-raiser from 1999-2002 and as a gaming minister in 2006-2006 as important periods in the relationship.

He is also said to be friend of longstanding and recently retired hotels association Victorian president Peter Burnett.

On Tuesday, Mr Andrews told reporters his government had made important reform to minimize gambling harm.

“But at the same time, we’ve never made a secret of the fact that gaming, wagering and the hotel industry is a perfectly legitimate form of recreational activity.”

“It creates many thousands of jobs and for many people, in fact that vast majority of people who can partake at a safe level,” he said.

Mr Andrews took a keen interest in the gaming reform package including over the length of the new pokies entitlements period sand the EFTPOS withdrawal limit.

ATMs had been banned in Victorian pokies venues since 2012, but the new measure came in response to concerns that punters were still able to make as many withdrawals as they liked from venue EFTPOS terminals.

Tasmania has a $200 daily limit and is the only other state with an EFTPOS withdrawal limit.


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