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Australia Clubs Fight ‘License to Punt’ Plan by Key Lawmaker

April 11 (Bloomberg) -- Australian clubs began a A$20 million ($21 million) advertising campaign against lawmaker Andrew Wilkie’s plan to limit how much people spend on slot machines, which may curb revenue for companies like Tatts Group Ltd.

Wilkie supported Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s minority Labor government in return for so-called mandatory pre-commitment on slot machines. That could crimp revenue to companies that own gambling venues like Tatts, Tabcorp Holdings Ltd., Crown Ltd., Australia’s biggest casino operator, and slot machine maker Aristocrat Leisure Ltd.

“Every poker machine player, whether they play 10 times a week or 10 times a year, has to register to obtain a card,” said Anthony Ball, chief executive officer of Clubs Australia which represents 4,000 venues, on Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio. “We think that’s a license to punt.”

Tasmania state independent Wilkie wants laws to start 2014 that require people to set their own limit before they start gambling to help reduce the country’s 160,000 severe gamblers. Wilkie, one of the four votes the government needs to pass laws, said he would end his support for Gillard if the laws aren’t introduced. Clubs want a voluntary system.

“It’s as if the industry wants to sidestep the fact that this is simply to do with harm minimization for poker machine problem gamblers,” Wilkie told ABC radio.

To contact the reporter on this story: Gemma Daley at gdaley@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at phirschberg@bloomberg.net

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