Manager fears pokie changes

Horse and Jockey hotel manager Gary Lawrence fears the proposed License to Gamble laws would see the end of the industry as we know it.
Horse and Jockey hotel manager Gary Lawrence fears the proposed License to Gamble laws would see the end of the industry as we know it. Kerri Burns-Taylor

HORSE and Jockey Hotel manager Gary Lawrence fears proposed changes to poker machine gambling could cripple the industry and struggling clubs or hotels may have their days numbered.

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie has pushed for reforms that would require everyone to obtain a licence to be able to play poker machines, regardless of the size of their bets or gambling frequency.

The licences will feature a gambling limit and will restrict the user from playing once they reach their nominated amount.

Mr Lawrence said the proposed changes targeted the wrong people and would deter social gamblers from the occasional “flutter”, while pushing problem gamblers into the unregulated world of online gambling.

“The problem is a lot of people who do play a machine, are on their way out and have four or five coins in their pockets and just want to have a flutter,” he said.

At his premises alone, Mr Lawrence estimated the financial burden of implementing the initiative would be more than $1 million, to cover new machines and upgraded software.

Despite his objections to the scheme, Mr Lawrence said his and other premises across Australia continually promoted responsible gambling in their establishments.

During his time at the Horse and Jockey he has not had to deal with problem gamblers and said most Queenslanders were responsible gamblers who wanted to relax.

Warwick RSL secretary/manager Jo Schwenke said the industry had “aggressively addressed responsible gambling in the past 10 years” and agreed with Mr Lawrence the changes targeted the wrong people.

“I think while as an industry we can do more, Queensland is well and truly ahead of the race in terms of reducing problem gambling,” she said.

Mrs Schwenke said the impact to the RSL could be as high as a 40 per cent loss in profits and she feared job cuts may result. “I have never had to do it and I dread it, but what other choice do you have?” she asked. In May of this year $607, 546 was injected into the 237 gaming machines located across the Warwick area.

Topics:  gary lawrence horse jockey

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