Pokies reform faces a last minute challenge. Photo: Josh Robenstone
THE government's long-awaited poker machines reforms are facing a last minute challenge from the crossbench, with a push to give pokies venues longer to comply with rules designed to curb problem gambling.
The reforms would require venues with more than 20 machines to have voluntary precommitment on all its machines from 2016, with smaller venues given longer. There would also be a $250 ATM withdrawal limit in gaming venues.
The industry has argued that deadlines are too hard and too expensive to meet.
Fairfax Media understands independent MP Craig Thomson is seeking meetings with the government and opposition to discuss amendments, that includes a plan to remove rules to make all machines ''mandatory ready'' – forcing punters to set limits.
Those amendments would almost certainly anger the Greens and Tasmanian independent MP Andrew Wilkie who have reluctantly agreed to back the reforms.
Mr Thomson's other amendments would also require venues, with 11 or more pokies, to have just 20 per cent of their machines adapted to precommitment technology by 2016, with every machine to have the system by 2022.
ATM withdrawal limits would only apply 12 months after the law was given Royal Assent, not next May as planned.
The proposed amendments would also mean ATMs were exempt from withdrawal limits if the machines offered self-exclusion for punters, a system where people could lock themselves out of an ATM.
Mr Thomson, and others have expressed concern, that the current bill is too costly for smaller clubs to comply with.
Clubs Australia executive director Anthony Ball says the majority of clubs simply do not have the financial capacity to switch to voluntary pre-commitment by 2016.
The Coalition is yet to decide its position on the government's bill and will discuss it at Tuesday morning's party room meeting.