The ACT Government continues to reduce harm from electronic gaming machines while supporting sustainable community clubs, as Yowani Country Club has become a ‘pokie-free’ venue through the Government’s Gaming Machine Authorisation Surrender Incentive.
“The ACT Government has been unwavering in its commitment to reduce the harm caused by poker machines while continuing to support local, sustainable clubs,” Minister for Gaming Shane Rattenbury said.
“Community clubs play an important part in the social life of many Canberrans, in connecting people, and as a meeting place and sponsor of community events. We want to ensure clubs continue to support the community, while reducing their financial reliance on revenue from gambling activities due to the harm it causes to individuals, families and the broader community.
“Gaming machine-free venues give club patrons a choice – they can still go to the club without having to put up with pokies.
“That is why the ACT Government is encouraging and supporting community clubs to diversify their income sources away from gaming machines and Yowani is great example of the success of this approach.”
In March 2022, the ACT Government re-established the Gaming Machine Authorisation Surrender Incentive, investing $1.74 million into the scheme. The scheme offered a bonus payment of $5000 per licence if a club retired all of their licences. By the end of 2022, seventy authorisations had been surrendered under the scheme, including 21 from Yowani Country Club, making the club ‘pokie-free’.
Yowani Country Club will redevelop the eastern edge of its site, including the current clubhouse and carpark, for residential, commercial, and guest accommodation. A new expanded clubhouse will also support increased and new revenue streams from hospitality, venue and event hire, and a sports club bar and facilities.
“Providing a financial incentive to clubs and hotels to reduce the number of poker machines they operate, the program supports ACT community clubs such as Yowani to pursue new revenue streams which meet an emerging community need, without exposure to gaming machines,” Minister Rattenbury said.
“Since August 2018, the ACT has seen a reduction in just over 1,153 poker machines in the ACT, which is a reduction of 23 per cent in the last four years. With 3,793 electronic gaming machine authorisations in the ACT, we are targeting a further reduction in the number of gaming machine authorisations to 3,500 by 1 July 2025.
“The Government will continue to work with community clubs to reduce their reliance on gambling revenue and I want to acknowledge the achievement of Yowani Country Club in becoming ‘pokie free’.”