As gaming at venues across Queensland reopen, some Scenic Rim residents are looking forward to a flutter on the pokies.
Beaudesert RSL will switch on its 45 poker machines from 12pm tomorrow but club manager Sharon Cullen said to comply with social distancing rules only every second machine would be used.
Ms Cullen said the resumption of gaming was a welcome milestone towards recovery after the club was forced to close its doors due to the COVID-19 crisis in March with 35 staff suspended temporarily.
“We have 99 per cent of the staff back on board now and we are looking for people to fill positions in the bar, bistro and reception areas,” she said.
A Beaudesert Hotel spokeswoman said the pub was ready to open the 27 poker machines in the gaming room at lunchtime until 2am tomorrow with a few changes in place.
“We are allowing full access to all the machines but we will be using a cashless system for payout with a credit redemption terminal available,” she said.
“We are asking people to practise social distancing and to let an attendant know when they have finished with a machine so we can sanitise it for the next person.”
The spokeswoman said all customers would need to sign in on arrival and asked those who were only attending the club to use poker machines to please use the side gaming room door rather than the main pub entrance.
The Railway Hotel will also open its gaming room but it was unsure at time of writing whether all 16 of the pub’s poker machines would be available.
Liquor and Gaming Commissioner Victoria Thomson said licensed venues being able to offer a full range of services again was an important milestone for Queensland to get back to normal, but to remember this was a ‘new’ kind of normal.
She reminded about the importance of reaching out for help if they are worried about gambling becoming a problem
“The recommencement of in-venue gaming after a long shut-down is unique and unprecedented and licensees and patrons need to consider not only the health and hygiene rules but put measures in place to minimise the negative impacts of gambling,” Ms Thomson said.
“The COVID-19 health crisis has understandably left many Queenslanders feeling extremely lonely and anxious. Individuals and families have also faced financial pressures, unemployment and isolation.
“While faced with these challenges, it’s important to remember that gambling doesn’t pay the bills and won’t create the sense of belonging that comes from relationships and social connections.
“If gambling is more than a leisure activity for you, I urge you to contact the Gambling Helpline. It’s a free and confidential service.”
Ms Thomson said self-excluding from venues was now easier with patrons able to ban themselves from multiple venues without setting foot inside. Patrons could also approach their local Gambling Help Service to put multi-venue exclusions in place.
“Gaming venue staff are also trained in responsible service of gambling and have a responsibility to care for patrons so please don’t feel offended if staff reach out to you to see if you’re ok – they’re just doing their job,” she said.
“As well as trained gaming staff and GHS, remember your family and friends can provide important support if you want to cut down or cut out your gambling. Consider opening up to someone you trust if you find yourself struggling.
“I encourage Queenslanders to think about their gambling habits before, during and after lockdown and make a change if needed. If you have the urge to rush out to a venue and play the pokies, your gambling may be a problem.”
If you or a friend or a family member need support, contact Gambling Help on 1800 858 858 or visit gamblinghelpqld.org.au.