Tweed sees red in pokies crackdown
TWEED Heads has been named in the pokies "red zone” and will not be able to acquire any more gaming machines following a government crackdown on the state's gambling industry.
Minister for Racing Paul Toole announced sweeping new reforms last week which will cap the number of poker machines in areas dubbed "higher risk”.
The new rating system is based on data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and determines risk based on the area's socio-economic level.
Previously, the rating system grouped together entire council areas, meaning the Tweed LGA was in the red zone and smaller clubs were under the same restrictions as clubs with hundreds of machines.
Under the new ratings, Tweed Heads South, Kingscliff and Pottsville are classified under "Band 2”, meaning they won't be subject to the cap.
Tweed MP Geoff Provest, who was formerly the general manager of Tweed Heads Bowls Club - one of the Tweed's largest clubs - said the reforms were "sensible” and would loosen the leash on smaller clubs by allowing them to trade more machines.
"I think it's just another step.
"It was done with consultation of the club and hotel industry and I'm in full support of it,” he said.
"Outside of that red zone, it will allow smaller venues to lease their machines and it brings everything out into the open and makes it more transparent.”
Twin Towns Clubs and Resorts chief executive Rob Smith said there would be very little change for his club, which had 596 machines, as the number of machines in NSW was already capped.
He said the process was now more about how machines were traded between venues in different zones and would actually result in fewer machines overall.
"While people think there is a sinister connotation behind trading machines - for every three machines moved, one is forfeited to the government,” he said.
"So every time there is a trade, there is a lesser overall amount of machines, which is what the government is seeking to occur over time.
"It's a positive harm-minimisation measure in line with the government's strategy and I can understand the government's methodology,” he said.
But Greens Gambling Harm spokesman Justin Field said the proposed legislation would create new exemptions to the forfeiture scheme for regional hotels, creating a new option to lease machines rather than sell them, and would make club mergers easier.
"The new gambling legislation protects vested interests and the profits of the pokies industry while turning a blind eye to the serious harm caused by poker machines in this state,” he said.
Find out how many pokie machines are at your club:
- Twin Towns (596 machines)
- Seagulls (323)
- Tweed Heads Bowls Club (285).
Yellow Zone (not subject to cap):
- Club Banora (196)
- South Tweed Heads Bowls Club (110)
- Coolangatta and Tweed Heads Golf Club (97)
- Kingscliff Bowls Club (80)
- Twin Towns Juniors Club (70)
- Pottsville District Bowls & Sports Club (47)
- Cabarita Beach Sports Club (46)
- Cudgen Leagues Club (36 )