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South Australia to Change Pokies Legislation

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South Australia is planning sweeping changes to its gambling legislation. The new laws, which are due to come into effect from July next year, will affect mainly the state's poker machines industry.

As part of the changes, gambling venues will need to make a decision about whether they are to be categorised as 'major' or 'minor' venues. Major venues will be allowed to operate up to 60 pokies but will be subject to stricter regulations, while minor venues will be limited to 20 poker machines.

Minor venues will have pokies as an 'extra' activity to supplement its food and beverages offerings, while major venues will need to have systems in place that will reduce problem gambling.

Another significant change will be that maximum wagers of $5 per spin will be allowed.

These are the most important changes to take place in South Australia pokies legislation since these types of machines were introduced to the state in the mid 1990s.

Adelaide Casino and New Pokie Laws

The government has identified how it believes the new poker legislation would affect Adelaide Casino's plans to expand its casino floor, considering the state's target to effectively achieve a reduction target of 3,000 machines.

Adelaide Casino will need hundreds of new machines if its expansion is to take place, and the government said that it will first need to try and find local sellers of poker machines. If it failed to find machines to buy from willing sellers, it would be granted 300 new machine licenses for its high roller room.

Less Pokies in South Australia

While some fear that providing licenses to Adelaide Casino will actually see South Australia end up with more pokies in its system than less, Deputy Premier John Rau says that this is an unlikely scenario.

"All the studies have demonstrated that the number of venues is a critical factor," he said. "This will achieve a reduction in the number of venues."

The changes to SA gambling laws mean that venues may seek to downsize their gaming operations, or even end them. However, they would be doing so in a competitive trading environment.

According to Rau, smaller operators may see this as a good opportunity to sell off their poker machines. "I believe these measures will meant that a number of small venues will decide, 'look, this is not a bad opportunity for us to exit the gaming world altogether'," he said.

Uniting Communities spokesman, Mark Henley praised the government's moves. "If we must have poker machine gambling in South Australia, then it is best concentrated in a small number of big venues with close monitoring and enforcement," he said. "The legislative changes help to achieve this goal."

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