ACT News


Canberra newsagents seeking a ban on petrol station scratchies

Canberra newsagents are asking the public to get behind them and support a ban on lottery products, including scratchies, from being sold by Woolworths and Coles.

NSW Lotteries announced last month it had entered into franchise agreements with Woolworths petrol stations in the ACT and NSW to sell its full range of lottery products.

But agents say the move could be devastating to their businesses, and next week will launch a petition that asks the ACT government to intervene.

"Lotteries is important to [newsagents] financially but more so it brings traffic to us that we probably wouldn't otherwise get. In some newsagencies it would be 70 per cent of their turnover or more," Narelle Dixon, from NewsXpress in Belconnen, said.

"We want the people of Canberra to support their local newsagencies, to come in and sign the petition and we are going to do anything in our power to try and keep lotto out of big business."

The rollout of lottery products in petrol stations will begin on Monday, but a spokeswoman for Tatts Group, which owns NSW Lotteries, said it was not yet clear when it would reach the five planned petrol stations in the ACT.


In response to the NSW Lotteries agreement with Woolworths, the ACT government has introduced restrictions on the times scratchies and other products can be sold in the capital.

On the recommendations of the ACT Gambling and Racing Commission, from Monday stores across the ACT will only be allowed to sell lottery products between 5am and 9pm.

"These new hours will ensure the current access to purchase these products will remain, but will not allow sale at all hours of the night," Gaming Minister Joy Burch said.

"I was concerned that lottery products were going to be available for sale 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I believe the community would consider this to be inappropriate, as no other gambling product in the ACT is available through retail shops at all hours of the night."

Ms Burch said the approach was about protecting the community from problem gambling issues.

"While lottery products are lower risk than other gambling products, they are not 'no risk'," she said.

"It was on this basis that the Gambling and Racing Commission recommended to me that a restriction on the hours they could be sold was appropriate.

"I will continue to monitor this situation to ensure harm minimisation is being maintained in the sale of lottery products."

Ms Dixon said while the move wouldn't affect newsagents, she could only agree "in principle" to the changes.

"I think if you're adding five more [lottery] outlets to the ACT, which is a 12 per cent increase, that doesn't really reflect harm minimisation to me."

In August, anti-gambling advocate Gerard Byrne told Fairfax Media he feared the sale of scratchies and lottery tickets at service stations could lead to more social problems in the ACT.

It's not only the availability that has his him worried. He said local newsagents were more familiar with the customers and therefore more likely to notice when someone's purchasing of lottery products is becoming a problem.