The Newsagents Association of NSW and the ACT has been encouraged by state Labor leader Luke Foley’s pledge to extend the moratorium on lottery ticket sales.
The moratorium, which currently protects 1500 newsagents and other small businesses by outlawing lottery ticket sales to larger retailers, was introduced following the Labor government’s sale of Tatts Lotto on a 40 year lease in 2010. It is due to expire on April 1 this year.
Association chief executive Andrew Packham said it was pleasing that one of the major parties had come out in support,” Mr Packham said.
“It’s not often you can say politicians have listened. They’ve listened to what we’ve said and they’ve translated it into something that is quite workable.
“Tatts is a monopoly, a big company with a fair bit of history, and we are small business. Extending the moratorium is a balancing act that produces an outcome that is fair and reasonable.”
The association has had extensive consultation NSW treasurer Andrew Constance and Small Business Minister John Barilaro, and Mr Packham will meet next Wednesday with Mr Constance and other ministers.
One mediation with Tatts Lotteries in November failed to produce a result, with another meeting planned before April.
Treasury calculated the cost of extending the moratorium to be more than $1 billion by 2050, taking into account compensation to Tatts, which plans to expand its sales to include fuel convenience stores – but Mr Packham did not agree with the estimate. He suggested Treasury consider the cost to the livelihoods of small business owners should the moratorium lapse.
The association has received more than 100,000 signatures on its petition to extend the moratorium, and the Labor Party has just launched its own in support of newsagents.
“We’re working towards finding a solution,” Mr Packham said.
“The first of April is looming and we’d like something in place that takes the pressure off that.”
There are 1200 newsagents in NSW, as well as another 300 small retailers which sell lottery tickets. The tickets make anywhere between 25 and 90 per cent of total revenue for newsagents.
The effect on newspapers, which make up to 20 per cent of total revenue for newsagents, would be devastating, Mr Packham told The Newspaper Works in November.
“The newsagent system was created to ensure low cost home delivery of newspapers. That entire system is under threat.”
Mr Packham said removing income from lottery tickets would render 60 to 70 per cent of businesses unviable.
“We’re calling on the government to say look, put politics aside,” Mr Packham said this week.
“There are 1500 small businesses that want cool heads prevailing on this issue.”
For more news from The Newspaper Works, click here.