2 Jan

NT Gov’t lifts poker machines cap in pubs, clubs and hotels

The government of the Northwest Territory scripted some major changes to the way things are going to be run in 2015. Home buyers, ratepayers and political committees all took a big blow with the start of the New Year, while pubs, clubs and hotels rejoice at the removal of a long-standing cap on poker machines. The encompassing goal is to raise more money for communities and government offices.

problem gambling on pokies The most controversial change of all comes by way of a regulated increase in pokies around NT. Up until now, there was an obligatory cap of 1,190 poker machines allowed in the state, which was met some time ago by the abundance of pubs, clubs and hotels dotting the map. But that meant new business owners were left at a disadvantage, unable to tap into the pokies market.

NT officials stated the cap increase would provide a much needed leveling of the playing field. Businesses that opened after the cap was met will now be able to install poker machines at their facilities. As of January 1st, all newer pubs will be permitted to install up to 10 electronic gaming machines; the same number older pubs are already capped at. Likewise, clubs will be allowed to have 45 poker machines on site.

Then, starting July 1st, 2015, those caps will rise across the boards. All pubs can double their gaming machines from 10 to 20, while clubs will be allotted an increase of 45 to 55. However, the installment of new pokies will come with a hefty price tag.

The government said that, in order to offset the mounting concerns over additional poker machines, pubs, clubs and hotels will have to pay a one-off fee for each new electronic gaming machine installed. For pubs and clubs, the fee is set at $10,000 per new poker machines, while hotels will have to fork over a much larger toll of $50,000 per additional unit.

The 2015 regulations also require an increase to the Community Benefit Fund in which a percentage of that money will be allocated to organizations that help problem gamblers.

Pokies operators weren’t the only ones affected by the newly scribed laws of NT. The ‘Red Tape Abolition Squad’ has absolved a total of 35 government committees and boards, including the NT Licensing Commission. They were consolidated into a single justice system to oversee licensing procedures and appeals in all genres of civil and administrative dealings, from motor vehicle registrations and property conveyance, to construction, tourism and government obtainments.

Purchasing a home in NT won’t be so easy these days, either. If buying a newly built home, the purchaser will still be entitled to a $26,000 grant, but the $12,000 and $25,000 allotments once available to purchasers of previously built homes in urban and rural locations respectively were eliminated.

Ratepayers will see another increase in utilities as well. After a 20% rise in power costs and 30% in water tariffs in 2013, followed by a 5% rate hike in 2014, ratepayers are now bracing for yet another 5% jump in electricity, water and sewage bills. In the end, it could be that citizens of NT won’t find nearly so much extra coinage in their pocketbooks to spend on all those new poker machines.