Casino style gambling in the form of poker machines, commonly referred to as “pokies” in Australia is coming under fire from ClubsACT. ClubsACT focuses their work in the Canberra community and are well known for contributing funds in the hundreds of millions of dollars to the local economy every year while also employing thousands of locals in the capital.
ClubsACT is currently spearheading a campaign to eliminate one club, Casino Canberra, from putting poker machines into play. They are not only being vocal in interviews and personal appearances, but they have now taken their fight online hoping to gain signatures in the form of a petition to put a stop to the introduction of “pokies” into this establishment.
At this time the gaming model put into place by ACT does not allow the use of “pokies” in a commercial gaming setting. However, the Canberra Casino has been working effortlessly to add more than 600 poker machines as part of a redevelopment plan. The purchase of these machines would cost the Canberra Casino more than $230 million.
The new redevelopment plan of the Canberra Casino would turn the establishment into a high-end entertainment resort. The owners, Aquis Entertainment, believe that the addition of poker machines would greatly increase their business and would in-turn be positive for the local economy. This would include the addition of more jobs in the capital area. With all the additions and changes being proposed, it would make the Canberra Casino the largest operator of poker machines in the country.
On the other side of the coin, ClubsACT believes that this redevelopment program would have negative effects in the area as they believe it would cause other community businesses to be put out of business. This could cause many locations in the capital to be forced to close with a significant loss of funds, while also resulting in major job loss.
Supporters of the Canberra Casino believe that ClubsACT is acting out of character by resorting to negative tactics to stop a local club from growing, just because they believe other local clubs will suffer. Without the ability for a club to a grow it does not look good for other clubs in the future in the area that wish to expand or
take their business to the next level.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr, said in September that he could easily lift the ban on poker machines for the Canberra Club, but he has yet to take action. Many believe that he is now debating his decision due to the outcry from ClubsACT and their many supporters.
Ultimately the decision of whether or not the Canberra Casino will indeed purchase and add poker machines to their establishment will rely heavily on the outcome of both the public and legal debate currently in motion in regards to the matter.