Southern Highlands gaming machines to remain “uncapped” under NSW government gaming changes

The Southern Highlands region’s gaming machine numbers could continue to grow as the NSW government classifies most parts of the region as “low risk” to the adverse affects of the machines.

Despite this, pokies in hotels and clubs in the Wingecarribee raked in $11,264,765 during the six month period between June 1,2017 and November 20, 2017, numbers from the NSW Liquor and Gaming Department of Industry show. 

High-risk communities in NSW will have their number of gaming machines capped under new laws.

High-risk communities in NSW will have their number of gaming machines capped under new laws.

On Tuesday, Minister for Racing Paul Tool said the NSW Government plans to cap the number of gaming machines in high-risk communities.

Under the NSW government’s Local Impact Assessment (LIA) scheme the majority of the Southenr Highliands region is classified as Band 1, low risk while the Mittagong region is classified as Band 2, “medium risk”.  

The scheme classifies areas based on the Statistical Area Level 2 (SA2), geographical boundaries set by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Mr Toole said local community caps are an “appropriate response to concerns that some areas have too many gaming machines”.

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“These areas will be capped at their current number, ensuring no additional machines can move into those areas,” he said 

Mr Toole said reforms to current gambling regulations would include an overhaul of the Local Impact Assessment (LIA) scheme that regulates gaming machine movements.

High-risk communities will be decided based on their socio-economic level determined by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. 

Socio-economic factors would have a 70 per cent weighting when regulators assess gaming machine applications.

The state greens believe the proposals don’t go far enough as they do not include measures to stop addictive features of the machines. 

“They don't rein in predatory behavior from clubs and hotels to maximise profits and they don't keep people and communities safe," Greens MP Justin Field said in a statement on Tuesday.

Mr Field called on the government to introduce one dollar maximum bets and come up with a plan to rapidly reduce the number of pokies across the state.

Alliance for Gambling Reform NSW spokeswoman Allison Keogh said the government was failing to protect ordinary people.

"Councils like Fairfield already have more machines than the whole of Tasmania," she said in a statement on Tuesday.

Ms Keogh said the number of machines in areas such as Fairfield needed to be reduced not just capped.