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Qld law reform could see pokies redistributed across state

Gaming room of the Yaralla Sports Club, Gladstone.
Gaming room of the Yaralla Sports Club, Gladstone. Chrissy Harris

REGIONAL gaming boundaries could be opened up to allow for pokies to be redistributed across Queensland under sweeping law reform the State Government is considering.

The proposal is just one of many the government is considering in wide-ranging reforms to the liquor and gaming industry.

Queensland could also see an end to restricted licensing hours or traditional holidays such as Christmas Day and Good Friday.

Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said the Government would also introduce measures to remove unnecessary regulation for schools and community groups, which would be announced shortly.

"We have found that mum and dad café and restaurants, as well as schools and community groups are also bearing the brunt of red tape and regulation," he said.

Currently, the total number of gaming machines allowed to operate in Queensland clubs is capped at 24, 705.

Under strict rules, venues are allowed to trade poker machine "entitlements" amongst themselves but only within their regions - south-east, coastal and western.

Venues are each allocated different "entitlements", which represent the number of gaming machines they can operate.

According to a discussion paper on liquor and gaming reform released on Friday, the regions were set up to ensure gaming machines were not concentrated in the populous south-east corner.

But mining development has turned the tables with the greatest demand for poker machines now concentrated in the coastal region - including Mackay, Rockhampton and Gladstone.

"On 1 May 2012, the south-east region had a demand for 55 entitlements, the western region had a demand for nine entitlements and the coastal region had by far the largest demand, with the region seeking 70 entitlements," the discussion paper outlined.

In a bid to free up red tape, the State Government is seeking submissions on whether the regional boundaries should be abolished.

While the move could lead to a concentration of gaming machines in one region, it would allow redistribution of pokies according to demand and supply, the paper states.

"This may have the effect of reinvigorating the reallocation scheme for clubs in the western area, where demand is currently low," the discussion paper submits.

"…and may allow non-performing clubs in this region to lease or sell their entitlements to clubs in other regions where the entitlements might be put to better use."

The discussion paper can be viewed at olgr.qld.gov.au.

Topics:  gambling jarrod bleijie law reform poker machines pokies queensland government



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