Gambling industry opposes safety measure
The Australian Churches Gambling Taskforce has said that mandatory pre-commitment technology on all poker machines will limit the economic and social impact of problem gambling on individuals, families and communities by helping problem gamblers help themselves.
Taskforce chair, the Rev. Tim Costello made the comments ahead of the launch of what promises to be an aggressive, well-funded campaign by the clubs and pubs in Sydney early next week.
He said the public face of that campaign painted 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,” Mr Costello said.
“Between 2008 and 2009, Australians spent $12 billion on poker machines.
“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. Thirty per cent of regular poker machine players experience harm. This is not a safe product.
“Problem gamblers are estimated by the Productivity Commission to lose on average $21,000 a year.
“Three quarters of people classified as severe problem gamblers play poker machines.
“It is possible to lose $1,500 an hour on modern machines.
“For every problem gambler at least one child is affected and ten other people are directly adversely affected.
“Every day our agencies deal with the fallout of failed public policy at the coalface.
“The churches are not interested in stopping people from enjoying recreational gambling. But we do want clubs and pubs to ensure that gambling in their venues does not cause harm.
“Allowing gamblers to set themselves enforceable limits in all gaming machine venues is one effective consumer protection measure.
“It will help people help themselves to set and stick to their self-imposed limits, which can be as high or low as they chose.
“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.”
Mr Costello said, “At present they can make no such claim, and until they can, their industry is unsustainable on ethical and business grounds.”