Problem gambling: more action neededFriday, November 2, 2012
New federal poker machine reforms featuring a trial of mandatory pre-commitment and a $250 ATM withdrawal limit are a small step forward, but far from enough, says FamilyVoice research officer Ros Phillips.
“Unlike most other forms of gambling, poker machines are specifically designed by psychologists to induce addiction,” Ros Phillips said. “They are also programmed to return a fixed percentage of every dollar to the machine. Ultimately, pokie punters cannot win.
“The only effective way to deal with this inherent injustice is to phase out pokies altogether,” Ros Phillips said. “Western Australia does not allow these harmful machines anywhere except its casino – and WA has far fewer problem gamblers as a result. In the rest of the country, up to 70% of poker machine profits come from punters with severe or moderate gambling addiction problems.”
Ros Phillips said that the biggest hurdle governments face in dealing with this injustice is their own addiction to revenue from pokie taxes. “Yet this tax is regressive. It punishes those who are most vulnerable – the poorest community members who resort to pokie gambling as a way to solve their desperate financial situation.
“Pokie losses only make them more desperate,” Mrs Phillips said. “Where are the parliamentarians who will legislate to protect the poor from cynical exploitation?
“How can governments sit back and fail to take effective action? A limit of $1 maximum per play would help. A limit of $100 on ATM withdrawals at pokie venues would be more helpful than $250, which is half the weekly earnings of some punters. But ultimately, after sufficient notice is given, the machines need to go.”
FamilyVoice recommended to the Joint Select Committee on Gambling Reform in 2010 that each state commit to the complete removal of gaming machines from hotels and clubs by 2018.
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