NSW offers financial assistance to pokies operators

28 July 2020

The New South Wales Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority (ILGA) has put in place a number of temporary measures for gaming machines in an effort to help venues in the Australian state impacted by the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

The temporary changes apply to the Financial Arrangements for the acquisition of gaming machines under section 72(1)(b) of the Gaming Machines Act 2001. It follows requests from machine supplier Aristocrat and the Gaming Technologies Association to support customers affected by the Covid-19 crisis, and amid rising fears of a second wave of the virus hitting the country.

The ILGA has approved an extension of all existing approved payment terms by a further 90 days, as well as a six-month extension to existing approved payment plans contracted over 12 months, two years or three years.

In addition, ILGA will allow for a general payment deferral of up to six months in rare cases, at the discretion of the licensed dealer or licensed seller.

The temporary financial arrangements will also be available to hotels and clubs placing new orders up to 30 September this year.

“These temporary arrangements will provide financial assistance to venues experiencing financial stress due to the economic impacts of the pandemic,” the ILGA said.

“Moreover, they are in line with dispensation already provided to the gaming industry by the NSW Government in response to the pandemic. They will remain in force until reviewed by the Authority after 30 September 2020.”

The announcement comes amid fears that Australia could face a second wave of Covid-19, with the country having seen an ongoing increase in new daily cases over the past few weeks. Today (28 July), Australia announced 400 new cases, one of the highest daily totals in July.

New South Wales has been one of the worst hit states in Australia with a total of 3,699 positive cases sine 22 January, second only to Victoria. A total of 49 people have died in New South Wales after testing positive for Covid-19.

States across the country have started to take measures to slow any further spread of Covid-19, including in New South Wales, where the government last week issued a new order to amend restrictions that apply to hospitality venues. This came despite the state having relaxed some measures on 1 July.

In response to the latest order, Australian operator Star Entertainment Group said it was to introduce a number of new restrictions at its Star Sydney casino. These included having a maximum of 300 patrons at the location one time, while also banning customers gathering in different areas from mingling.

The casino was this month hit with an AUD$5,000 (£2,772/€3,044/US$3,571) fine by the ILGA for breaching public health orders designed to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Patrons of the venue were observed "standing and mingling between groups while consuming alcohol" on Saturday, according to the regulator.