Greens plan to put community back at the heart of the Canberra’s community clubs


The ACT Greens will deliver a network of pokie-free clubs around Canberra as part of a comprehensive package to curb community clubs’ dependence on pokies revenue.

Clubs play an important role in the Canberra community. The Greens plan puts the community front and centre of our community clubs agenda, offering a range of supports to enable clubs to get back to their community purpose and encouraging more clubs to become pokie-free. 

Sadly, in the ACT people can lose more than $1000 an hour playing the pokies - one of the highest rates in Australia. The Greens will take further steps to reduce harm from these poker machines throughout our suburban community clubs. 

This will include support for pokie-free clubs to: 

  • Receive Government subsidies to be the venue of choice for community organisation venue hire
  • Upgrade their kitchens to attract high quality restaurateurs, or for community group access 
  • Provide acoustically treated concert and performance halls 
  • Better support new and emerging communities in Canberra which do not have their own club venues.
  • Offer a range of safe entertainment opportunities

The Greens’ plan will also:

  • Further reduce the number of Electronic Gaming Machine (EGM) licences in the ACT to 3000 during the next Assembly term (onwards from the 2016 Parliamentary Agreement commitment of 4,000)
  • Implement stronger harm minimisation measures of $5 bet limits and $100 load up limits by the end of 2022 at the latest
  • Establish a Community Clubs Ministerial Advisory Council with key stakeholders to ensure frequent dialogue and collaboration on the future of the clubs industry
  • Support clubs to become Heat and Smoke Refuges, so that Canberrans have somewhere to go during extreme climate events
  • Establish a $5 million Community Facilities and Clubs Environmental Upgrade Fund

Comments attributable to Rebecca Vassarotti, ACT Greens Gaming Harm spokesperson:

“In tough times, we know that we need to introduce specific measures to reduce the risk of gambling harm for individuals and families.The community expects us to act to reduce the level of gambling harm in our community. This package of initiatives doesn't shy away for the need to implement sensible, evidence-based measures that will reduce the harms caused by gambling.

“The ACT Greens have been consulting with local clubs, and are listening to the challenges they face. 

“We want Canberrans to enjoy more clubs with no pokies. Our comprehensive package means working with our local community to make our local clubs a safer, more connected place for everyone to enjoy - a place where kids can play, families and friends can get together, without the presence of pokies.”

Comments attributable to Shane Rattenbury, ACT Greens leader:

“Community clubs are a vital part of Canberra’s social fabric. Yet over the years, we’ve seen clubs increasingly move away from their community roots - becoming more dependent on the rivers of gold from pokies and gambling addiction to keep themselves afloat. The Greens want our community clubs to not only survive, but thrive. Relying on problem gamblers to gamble away their livelihoods is a broken business model, and just not sustainable.

“While the COVID-19 pokies switch-off was a welcome relief for people experiencing gambling harm, it also caused significant financial hardship to many clubs. This is a moment for us to decide what is important about our community clubs.

“That’s why our Greens plan will put community back at the heart of our community club agenda - ensuring that Canberrans can enjoy more community places that aren’t dependent on problem gambling to survive.”

Read the full plan at →