By all accounts Labor’s policy to remove pokies from communities after 2023 was unexpected.
However the risks involved when the gaming monopoly expires has previously been discussed by both parties to the arrangement, the government and Federal Group.
Treasury head Don Challen told a hearing of the Public Accounts Committee on 16th July 2003 which was looking at a premature extension of the original deal due to expire in 2009:
“I did say to Mr Farrell across the negotiating table a number of times that 'Come 1 January 2009 you don't have a business'. I put a reasonableness test on the outcomes we get from the negotiations and if I didn't think they were reasonable in the interests of the Tasmanian community I would have kept pushing Mr Farrell until I got him to the point where I thought we had a reasonable outcome. In the back of his head he knows that legal possibility of the licence coming to an end is there and that is a discipline on him to come to the negotiations with a realistic attitude.”
Quite clearly both parties negotiated the 2003 deed extension with a sunset clause in full knowledge the punch bowl may be removed in 2023. If Federal Group have a risk management strategy there’s little doubt what should be number one on the list.