The expansion of Crown Casino’s gaming tables from the current 350 to 500 has been approved in the Victoria state Parliament with unexpected bipartisan support.
When first announced last May, the opposition in Parliament threatened to fight the move, which was intended to ease the pain of a tax rate increase on the casino’s 2,500 slot machines.
However, according to news source The Age, the resistance faded as far back as September, when opposition leader Ted Baillieu and gaming spokesman Michael O’Brien met with Crown’s James Packer and CEO Rowen Craigie.
Helping to smooth the road was a A$10 million package for programs intended to counter problems with compulsive gambling. An additional A$1.5 million will go to advertising, A$2.1 million for compulsive gambling research and A$1.5 million for the Community Advocate on Gambling.
Twenty additional trainers will be available to educate gaming staff on the warning signs of problem gambling. So-called “harm minimization features” will be developed for automated table games at Crown and training will be given staff who work near the devices.
O’Brien said of the compulsive gambling aid, “If we can get this package, then we would be satisfied that even with the extra tables at Crown, there would not be an increase in problem gambling. In fact, we believe that there could even be a decrease in problem gambling.”
Gaming Minister Tony Robinson was pleased with the outcome and the anticipated increased tax revenue that will come from Crown’s slot machines.
“More closely aligning the tax paid by Crown on its pokie revenue will raise more than A$100 million over the next four years for Victorian hospitals and health services,” Robinson said in a statement.