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ACT Financial Review To Recommend Poker Machines in the Capital

After a 16-year campaign, it looks like Casino Canberra might finally be able to install as many as 200 poker machines at its Glebe Park venue: it is expected that former ACT Labor Party treasurer Ted Quinlan will recommend in is upcoming review of the ACT’s revenue base that the prohibition on pokies be lifted.

The casino first attempted to bring pokies to the capital in 1995 – in response to the opening of Sydney’s Star City Casino, which it says dramatically impacted its revenue base. Casino Canberra has argued all along that the addition of pokies to its venues would contribute as much as 30% to gross gaming revenue tax – netting some $4million for the ACT Government.

But it has been a long and sometimes very political argument: the ACT Labor Party themselves benefitted from $600,000 in Pokies revenues last year alone, according to returns from the ACT Electoral Commission, and just last year Casino Canberra raised the stakes with the offer of a $10million one-off payment for permission to operate poker machines.

The Government has historically pursued a ‘not for profit’ policy with regard to poker machines in Canberra, but Casino Canberra’s marketing manager Peter Cursley says a lifting of the ban would simply be acknowledging the weight of evidence: ‘All...reports have suggested that there should be machines in the casinos or stated that there will be no harm done by machines...’

Neither Ted Quinlan nor Gaming Minister Andrew Barr were willing to join the debate yesterday.

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