The Australian island
state of Tasmania has set out a number of guiding principles for a reform of
its gambling laws when the state’s gaming licence expires in 2023.
The state government
describes the principles as “a new way forward for gaming in Tasmania, which
makes a clean break with the secretive ways of the past."
It explains that there
has been significant public interest in the future of the state’s gaming licence,
currently held by Tatts Group, over the past year. While a decision on the
future of gaming in the state is not required until 2019 the government has
outlined its principles and policy positions on key elements of the gaming
sector ahead of time.
describes gambling as a lawful form of entertainment for many Tasmanians, and
believes that a wide range of products should be available to consumers as long
as they are fair and provide an acceptable average return to players.
“The regulation of the
gaming industry should be designed to create a sustainable industry with the
highest standards of probity and harm minimisation,” the government says. “The
returns from the gaming industry should be shared appropriately among the
industry, players and the Government representing the community.”
It also says that the
placement or relocation of electronic gaming machines (EGM) into new venues
outside of the casino environment should be determined by public interest and
not solely by the industry’s wishes.
government adds, the duration of a gaming licence should be commensurate with
the level of investment necessary to underpin the delivery of the gaming
In line with these
guiding principles, the government has set out its policy positions in relation
to casino gaming operations as well as EGM (electronic gaming
machine) gaming in hotels and clubs post-2023.
The rights to conduct
gaming in the existing casinos including EGMs and table gaming and the
operation of casino are to remain with the federal group, while the tax rates
and licence fees for casino gaming and keno are to be reviewed against the
broader Australian market. This will help ensure that returns to players, the
licensed entity and the community via the government are appropriate.
The government will
allow ‘high-roller, non-residential’ casino licences to be awarded based on a
proposal put forward by professional gambler and owner of the Museum of New and
Old Art (MONA) David Walsh. As Walsh has announced his intention to apply for a
licence, he has been given first option to apply.
The rights to operate
EGMs in pubs and clubs after 2023 will be allocated and priced by a
market-based mechanism such as tender, with the state-wide EGM cap of 3,680 to
be decreased to 3,530 machines that year.
The rate at which
these machines are taxed will be reviewed with a view to ensure that returns to
players, the licensed operator and the community are “appropriate and
reflective of the broader Australian market and that the returns to hotels and
clubs, and the community, be should be at least in the same position they are
The community support
levy, which is applied to EGM activity in hotels and clubs, will also be
reviewed to ensure that it meets the needs of the community.
Finally the location
of EGMs will be subject to a new public interest test to be applied by the
Tasmanian Liquor and Gaming Commission, giving local communities more of a say
in determining the future location of the machines in the community.
The government will
also look to ensure a fully transparent public consultation process to allow
Tasmanians to have input into the future structure of the state’s gaming sector
after 2023. This will see a joint parliamentary committee comprising three
House of Assembly members, one from each party and three independent members of
the state Legislative Council to manage this consultation process and report by
the end of the year.
This will see the
policy position considered, market-based mechanisms such as tender processes
reviewed, as well as future taxation and licensing arrangements. Harm
minimisation measures will also be assessed, as well as the licence terms.
“The government has
developed a number of clear policy positions that we want the community to have
the opportunity to comment on in a transparent and open way,” the Tasmanian
government explained. “We are bringing this process forward now to provide
certainty to the community before the 2019 decision point.
“Our very firm view is
that this policy position and the open and transparent process outlined today
is the right way forward and in the best interests of the state.”