Wimmera poker machines freeze welcomed

THE number of gaming machines in the Wimmera will be frozen for the next 25 years under new reforms.

The state government announced earlier this week that new gaming machine arrangements will help limit gambling-related harm and give certainty to pubs, clubs and hotels across the state.

Under the changes, the number of gaming machines in Horsham will remain capped at 148.

The city has machines at Horsham Sports and Community Club, Horsham RSL and West Side Horsham.

Northern Grampians Shire has 80 machines and Ararat Rural City has 88.

The reforms will also extend existing 10-year licences to 20 years for venue operators, .

Under the changes, licence holders will now automatically keep their existing licences until 2032 provided they make a payment to the government in 2022 to get the extension.

The change comes in response to long-running industry complaints that the existing 10-year period made it too difficult for operators to plan their business and obtain finance.

West Side Horsham manager Tim Nurse welcomed the reforms.

“There will be 20-year licence renewals now, instead of 10, which is good for confidence,” he said.

“Horsham gaming machines are already capped, so we can’t get anymore in the city anyway.

“But venues that have machines have first preference on renewable entitlements.”

Mr Nurse said changes to entitlement payments would also benefit smaller, regional clubs.

“Entitlements will now be revenue based, which is better than the old scenario,” he said. “Previously, the payments were a set amount, but now it is dependent on the area and how much money you make.

“Country clubs won’t have to pay city prices anymore.”

Mr Nurse said the reforms would also help with future development of clubs. 

There are no machines in Hindmarsh, Yarriambiack or West Wimmera shires.