Marisa with Gaming Bill

I am incredibly pleased to announce that my Gaming Machine Amendment Bill passed the Assembly in February 2024.

Last year I introduced a Bill to ensure that the Molonglo Valley and undeveloped areas of the ACT will never see poker machines or the harm they bring with them to these areas. 

Research shows the closer you live in proximity to poker machines, the more likely you are to experience gambling harm. This Bill is a significant step forward in shaping the future of new communities like the Molonglo Valley, a real statement in terms of residents wanting to challenge the status quo and put the health of their community first. Clubs will still be able to establish themselves in the Molonglo Valley, just without pokies.

I will continue to work closely with the ACT club sector to develop and support a club of the future in the Molonglo Valley that has no pokies! 

I would like to thank the community for their support of the Bill and a big thanks to the Alliance for Gambling Reform and the ACT Council of Social Services for their support. 

Read on to find out more about the background and idea behind the Bill!


The Concept: A pokie-free Molonglo Valley

The concept is simple. Proximity to poker machines increases gambling harm; Molonglo Valley, being a relatively new area in the ACT, has no poker machines - I would like to see it stay that way. 

This campaign does not seek to 'take poker machines away' but rather encourage development without them. The idea behind 'pokies-free Molonglo' is that new communities can grow with less exposure to gambling harm.

As new suburbs develop, there is an opportunity to build an environment that promotes healthysafe, and connected communities without poker machines. There are so many other ways places like clubs can provide entertainment. This is an opportunity for our community to get creative with their ideas for the future.

The Campaign: A pledge to keep the Molonglo Valley pokie-free

In May I began a campaign in the Molonglo Valley asking people to sign a petition - pledging their support to keep the area free of poker machines. It attracted 125 signatures from community members who were concerned about the effects poker machines would have on the area. 

I launched this campaign with a media conference outside the Denman Prospect shops, alongside key gambling reform advocates and members of the ACT club community, where we spoke on the benefits of a pokie-free Molonglo Valley and reform in the club sector. You can watch it below!

By the end of the campaign in July the petition had attracted 125 signatures from concerned locals, worried about the effects of poker machines on their community. Since the beginning of the campaign the Canberra Times, Riotact, Canberra Weekly and WIN News have each reported on my proposal. I'll link one below.


Why is it important to keep Molonglo Valley areas pokie-free?

Independent researchers, government bodies and the community are generally all in accord with one another. Research shows that the accessibility of a venue with gambling machines increases the rate at which people gamble and the harm that gambling can cause.

Research suggests that 13% of Australians experience gambling harm. This number dramatically increases the closer an individual lives from a venue with poker machines.

Those living within 250m of a venue were 6% more likely to gamble over people who lived >2km away and were 5% more likely to experience gambling related harm (increased financial strain, mental health issues etc).

There is a direct correlation between the proximity of poker machines and and gambling harm – doubling the distance from a venue decreased an individual’s likelihood to gable by 1.5% relative to the mean. 

What will this campaign do? 

If successful, Dr Marisa Paterson will seek to change the law to ensure there will never be poker-machines in the Molonglo Valley district.

What impact will this have on clubs in the ACT?

This will have no impact on existing clubs and will not impact poker-machine limits in the ACT. However, if this campaign is successful this means that if a club wants to establish in Molonglo Valley, they cannot transfer machine licences to that new venue.

Does this mean Molonglo Valley will not get a club? 

No! This is an exciting opportunity to be at the forefront nationally in seeing the development of a club without poker machines. 

Support services 

If you are concerned about your gambling or someone else’s, you can seek support via the Gambling helpline – free 24/7 chat, email and phone counselling and support services if gambling is affecting you or someone you care about. 1800 858 858 or 

For Crisis Support contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or via text on 0477 13 11 14 (available 24/7). 

ACT Gambling Support Service 

Free helpline: 1800 858 858 

Website (incl. counselling, financial counselling, peer support): 

GambleAware Southern NSW & Canberra Region  

Phone:  02 4267 6600 

Email: [email protected]