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Australian Hotels Hit Poker Machine Jackpot

12 August 2002

AUSTRALIA – As reported by the Sydney Morning Herald: "Hoteliers claiming they face financial ruin are receiving a multi-million dollar windfall from thousands of new poker machine licences, a year after government gambling reforms.

"Overall, pubs will receive 2500 new licences under two schemes: one for hoteliers arguing they would face hardship if they did not receive extra pokies, and another to replace old card machines with new poker machines.

"Each licence is worth about $120,000 (US$64,740) when sold, with pokies generating an average of $47,000 (US$25,356) a year in revenue for owners.

"The NSW Government also stands to gain about $30 million (US$16.2 million) in taxes from the machines.

"…The head of the NSW Council on Problem Gambling, the Rev Chester Carter, said there were already too many poker machines in the state and counselling services were stretched to their limits dealing with the problem.

"…Almost 3000, mostly country, hotels have submitted applications under the hardship scheme which is open to pubs with fewer than the maximum of 15 pokies.

"So far, 1634 new machines have been approved under the scheme. But not all publicans have been granted all the extra licences they have applied for.

"Pubs can also get extra pokies by converting old-fashioned card machines - not regarded as much of a danger by gambling counsellors - to new machines at a rate of 3:1 (or 2: 1 for country hotels).

"So far, almost 1600 card machines have been surrendered, and another 900 may still be handed back, potentially adding a total of 900 new poker machines to the pool…"

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