NSW government pokie cap affects Hunter, Lake Macquarie suburbs

No additional gaming machines will be allowed inpubs and clubs atseveral locationsacross the Hunter and Lake Macquarie as part of aNSW government crack-down on problem gambling.

NSW racing minister Paul Toole announced the pokie cap on Tuesday, which meansthe government willnot allow the number ofgaming machines to increase in “higher-risk” communities across the state.

Belmont South/Blacksmiths, Beresfield/Hexham, Cessnock, Kurri Kurri/Abermain, Maitland, Mayfield/Warabrook, Mt Hutton/Windale and Raymond Terrace areclassified as “band three” communities that would be subject to the cap, according to Liquor and Gaming NSW data.

Read more:Hunter gamblers put $44 billion through pokies

The cap was one of the results of a review ofgambling regulation, witha package of reforms introduced to NSW Parliament this week.

Other measures in the legislation include a tenfold increase in fines for gambling operators who offer illegal inducements, a lease scheme to help small hotels and clubs work towards becoming free of gaming machines and tougher penalties for club directors found to have done the wrong thing.

New measures: Several communities in the Hunter and Lake Macquarie have been deemed high-risk enough for the state government to stop any additional gaming machines being brought in.

“Local community caps are an appropriate response to concerns that some areas have too many gaming machines,” Mr Toole said.

Read more:‘Pokies like vampires, sucking Hunter dry’

“A number of councils and community groups suggested caps and the NSW government agrees this is the right thing to do in higher-risk areas.Local community caps are part of a package of reforms that represent the most significant changes to gambling regulation in NSW for a decade.”

n Hotels Association Hunter branch president Rolly de With said on Tuesday afternoon that he was“still evaluating the impact on Newcastle and Hunter hotel operators”.

n Hotels Association Hunter branch president Rolly de With.

“At first glance, it appears to be a strengthening by the NSW government of the conditions pertaining to gaming in NSW,” he said.

AHA NSWliquor and policing directorJohn Green saidhe expected smallhotels in regional areas would benefit from the introduction ofleasing arrangements.

“Over recent years many country pubs have been forced to sell off their gamingassets when times got tough,” he said.

“Of course, they were only able to do this for as long as they had assets to sell. Afterthe assets were sold, many were forced to close their doors.”

Clubs NSW CEO Anthony Ball said hewas satisfied with the government’s review process.

“Ultimately, it needed to weigh up the interests of the industry against any potential for community harm and on that score the government has got the balance about right,” hesaid.

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