Casino gamblers are delighted to learn about pokies returning to New South Wales. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of casinos the length and breadth of the country in late March. Those casinos are reopening thanks to the relaxing of social distancing measures.
June 1 saw social distancing measures relaxed but not completely banished. Casinos and other establishments still have guidelines to follow, although they are less strict than before.
New South Wales’s pubs and RSL clubs can now open their gaming rooms. Up to 50 people are allowed in the larger venues. A 1.5-meter social distancing rule is being enforced. It’s far from ideal, but at least it means pokies returning sooner than anticipated.
Clubs NSW is pleased about pokies returning to the state and explained the current guidelines.
“A club’s patron capacity may further increase beyond 50 patrons – in increments of 50 up to a maximum of 500 – in accordance with the number of restaurants and cafes inside the club. Clubs will enforce social distancing measures, including the implementation of queuing systems and directional signage, and a requirement to remain seated unless placing an order. Clubs will also introduce strict cleaning schedules to ensure high-touch surfaces are regularly cleaned. Hand sanitiser will be made available throughout venues.”
Pokies Returning Is Putting Money Before Health
Gamblers are happy with New South Wales’ decision but anti-gambling campaigners are not. They accuse the government of putting money before health.
“This is really about money before public health, I think it’s that plain. A lot of these clubs and pubs have become so dependent on poker machine, they want to turn the cash cows back on.”
Those are the words of Tony Mohr, Executive Director of Alliance for Gambling Reform. Mohr revealed pokies are used more by older Australians. This demographic is more vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus.
Northern Territory Sets June 5 Date For Pokies Returning
June 5 sees pokies returning to the Northern Territory. Pubs and clubs can tun on their pokies and allow punters access. Other Australian states haven’t confirmed their dates for pokies returning. Any discussion won’t count Western Australia as pokies aren’t allowed outside casinos.
Other states may wait and see what happens in New South Wales and Northern Territory before making their own decisions. New South Wales has the most pokies of any Australian state with almost 100,000 in operation. The state’s hotels employ 75,000 staff, some of whom are returning to work.
No Pokies For Crown Sydney
Pokies returning to New South Wales is great news, but Crown Resorts isn’t celebrating. Crown has learned no pokies can be installed in its new $2.4 billion VIP casino in Sydney.
The new casino is nearing completion but it won’t have a single pokie in it. This is because rival The Star snapped up exclusive rights on May 29. The Star signed a special deal with the New South Wales government for the sole right to operate pokies. It gets worse for the James Packer-backed company; The Star has exclusive rights for 21-years!
Crown has endured a torrid time of late. Chinese VIP gamblers account for large percentages of its revenue. These VIPs are massively down in numbers with no guarantee of their return. The COVID-19 pandemic vastly reduced traffic to Crown by these VIPs. Plus, these well-heeled gamblers are usually private people who like their affairs keeping secret. Crown’s continual brushes with the government and agencies have resulted in the VIPs losing faith with the company.
No pokies on the Barangaroo complex is a hammer blow to Crown. It now concentrates on its 120 gaming tables, which have minimum bets of $20 and $30. The members-only venue needs some high rollers coming in from the minute the doors open.
There’s little chance of pokies returning to Crown’s new venue. New South Wales government agreed to pay substantial compensation to The Star if they allow pokies at Crown’s casino.