Pokies legislation goes from bad to worse
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After the failure of government to take up meaningful reform to curb the harm caused by poker machine gambling our campaign to push the two big players, Coles and Woolworths to make their poker machines safer is even more important. Coles may be at a tipping point, about to make a decision about the future of their poker machines.1 Click here to write to Wesfarmers Managing Director, Richard Goyder to ask Coles to clean up their act on pokies.
The Federal Government pokies legislation compromise has gone from bad to worse. Yesterday the Australian Parliament finally passed poker machines legislation, but unfortunately that legislation is unlikely to have any impact on problem gambling. The poker machine industry had already convinced the Government to abandon its commitment to meaningful reform and instead adopt voluntary pre-commitment – a technology that the evidence suggests will be a failure. In the last week the clubs movement has been lobbying hard in the lead up to the vote on the legislation. With the help of an amendment from lower house independent MP, Tony Windsor, voluntary pre-commitment won’t be implemented until 2018 at the earliest, more than two Federal elections away.
Some agencies that have been working on poker machine reform over a long period of time have been celebrating this legislation as progress, however small. Sadly, it also represents a huge missed opportunity to make a real difference for addicted gamblers, their families and communities.
Key parts of the package:
- Voluntary pre-commitment, which gives gamblers the option to decide at the start of play how much they want to gamble, will be in place from 2018 – delayed by 2 years from 2016.
- Mandatory pre-commitment, which requires gamblers to nominate how much they are willing to lose at the start of play and limits their gambling to that amount, will be trialed in the ACT in 2013 and reviewed in 2014.
- Electronic warnings on machines will be in place from 2016. - $250 withdrawal limits on ATMs in hotels and clubs.
- The technological changes make it possible to activate mandatory pre-commitment in the future but there’s no commitment to that now.
- The creation of a new gambling regulatory body.
- establishment and funding for the National Gambling Research Commission.
Now more than ever we need leadership on poker machine reform from outside of government. While Wesfarmers, the company that owns Coles are considering the future of their poker machines business it’s important that they hear from community members asking them to step up and do the right thing. Click here to write to Wesfarmers Managing Director, Richard Goyder to ask Coles to clean up their act on pokies.