According to a report from The Canberra Times newspaper, the proposal from Gordon Ramsay, an Australian Labor Party member of the ACT Legislative Assembly, would break the long-held monopoly local clubs in the federal district have had on the provision of slots and is set to be opposed by anti-gambling activists as well as members of the Greens political party.
The newspaper reported that Ramsay’s proposal calls for gamblers at the ACT casino to be required to nominate before playing how much they would be prepared to lose over any 24-hour period, which is not a stipulation that currently applies to local clubs.
In addition, The Canberra Times reported that the legislative measure proposed on Thursday would limit maximum Casino Canberra slot stakes to AU$5 ($3.97) per spin, which is half that permitted in local clubs, although it makes no mention of tax rates or if these are to be different from the rate applied to other operators.
The proposed legislation would reportedly moreover see Casino Canberra, which was purchased in late-2014 by Aquis Canberra Holdings (Australia) Proprietary Limited, required to forfeit one in three of the slots it buys from clubs instead of the one-in-four rate that applies to clubs that buy machines from other venues. This purportedly means that the casino would be required to acquire 390 machines at a cost of over $4.7 million in order to operate 200.
The newspaper reported that the proposed legislation would additionally oblige Aquis Canberra Holdings (Australia) Proprietary Limited, which is controlled by Hong Kong-based businessman Tony Fung, to buy at least half of the 390 slots for its Casino Canberra from hotels or clubs that earn less than $3.1 million a year from the machines.
Casino Canberra is currently awaiting government approval for a $236 million redevelopment plan that would see it add hotels, shops and restaurants. Although ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr stated last year that the property would only be allowed slots once this scheme was fully concluded, Ramsay’s measure would reportedly instead lower this stipulation to the completion of “a prescribed stage” to be subsequently defined by the Legislative Assembly.