Mandatory Pre-Commitment on Pokies a Must : Churches
11 April 2011 at 1:33 pm
|Flickr Image: Some rights reserved by jemsweb|
Mandatory pre-commitment technology for poker machines will limit the economic and social impact of problem gambling on individuals, families and communities, according to the Australian Churches Gambling Taskforce.
Taskforce chair and World Vision CEO Rev Tim Costello says the mandatory pre-commitment technology will help problem gamblers to help themselves.
The comments were made by Costello ahead of the launch of what the Churches expect to be an aggressive and well funded campaign by clubs and pubs in Sydney to fight moves towards mandatory pre-commitment technology.
In the Sydney Morning Herald last month, Adele Horin estimated the advertising blitz to be worth more than $20 million over two years.
Costello says the public face of the campaign paints a picture of the hard worker having a ‘flutter’ on the pokies with mates over a quiet beer at the end of the day, but this is a deliberate misrepresentation of the reality for many people.
He says around 600,000 Australians play poker machines on a weekly basis, but 15 per cent of these regular gamblers are problem gamblers and account for 40 per cent of expenditure on poker machines. An additional 15 per cent are at high risk of problem gambling.
The 2008 Productivity Commission into gambling estimated that problem gamblers spend an average of $21,000 a year on gambling – and that the social cost of problem gambling is at least $4.7 billion per year.
The Federal Government’s proposed gambling reforms are based on the recommendations of the Productivity Commission, including:
- Implement a full pre-commitment scheme for poker machines as recommended by the Productivity Commission. Implementation of pre-commitment arrangements will commence in 2012, with the full scheme commencing in 2014.
- Support the Productivity Commission’s recommendations to implement poker machine dynamic warning and ‘cost of play’ displays to provide more information to players.
- Implement a $250 daily withdrawal limit from ATMs in venues with poker machines except for casinos.
According to the Department of Family, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, in a full pre-commitment scheme, poker machine players will be asked to set a limit on how much money (and possibly time) they want to spend on the pokies in a set period.
Players would still have control over their own money and can set the limit as high or low as they like. They could also change their limits but would not be able to revoke or increase them within their agreed set period.
In the model recommended by the Productivity Commission, players can choose not to set a limit at all if this is their preference.
FACSIA says the Productivity Commission Report found that a pre?commitment scheme is a strong, practicable and effective way to minimise harm caused by problem gambling, while still allowing recreational players to enjoy poker machines.
Tim Costello says three quarters of people classified as severe problem gamblers play poker machines – and it is possible to lose $1,500 an hour on modern machines.
Costello says the Churches – whose agencies deal every day with the fallout of failed public policy at the coalface – are not interested in stopping people enjoying recreational gambling.
He says the Churches want clubs and pubs to ensure that gambling in their venues does not cause harm by allowing gamblers to set themselves enforceable limits in all gaming machine venues.
He says this will help people help themselves to set and stick to their self-imposed limits, which can be as high or low as they chose.
Costello says mandatory pre-commitment does not promise to solve every problem but it does mean the industry could say it has put in place an important measure to protect consumers from harm.
He says at present they make no such claim, and until they can, their industry is unsustainable on ethical and business grounds.
Social action campaign group GetUp is also in the fight against problem gambling, launching print ads to counter the Clubs Australia campaign against measures to tackle problem gambling.
The ads feature Ilona Roberts from Tumbulgum, NSW, whose mother suffers dementia and lost around $100,000 on pokie machiens before Ilona found her ATM receipts. elderly mother, who suffers from dementia, lost around $100,000 on pokie machines before Ilona happened upon her mother?s ATM receipts and stepped in to help.
GetUp has so far gathered 39,000 signatures on a national petition to Prime Minister Gillard, urging the Government to deliver its commitment to mandatory pre-commitment technology.
Click here to sign the petition for pokie reform – http://www.getup.org.au/campaign/Pokies&id=1615