WILKIE’S POKIE REFORMS SET TO FAIL
The President of ClubsAustralia today said the Tasmanian Independent MP Andrew Wilkie’s $3 billion poker machine reforms have been designed to deter recreational gamblers and would not stop problem gamblers from betting.
Addressing the National Press Club, itself a venue that will be subject to Wilkie’s mandatory pre-commitment technology, Peter Newell said the anti-gambling lobby was well aware that responsible gamblers will refuse to register for a license to gamble.
“The Member for Denison is on the record as saying he’d like to see poker machines disappear altogether.
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“But he admits that his “restrictions” – his word – are a good step along the way to this ultimate extremist and prohibitionist goal,” he said.
Peter Newell accused Wilkie and his followers of ignoring the advice of some of Australia’s leading gambling experts and welfare groups who have concluded that mandatory pre-commitment will not help problem gamblers stop betting.
“The Australian Government has seen plenty of evidence only in the last couple of months that this is a flawed proposal as far as helping problem gamblers is concerned.
“Australia’s leading academic on problem gambling, Professor Alex Blaszczynski, advised a Parliamentary Committee chaired by the Member for Denison himself that pre-commitment is unlikely to have a significant impact on the majority of problem gamblers, and may even exacerbate problem gambling.
“Common sense tells you he’s right, because problem gamblers are unlikely to set affordable limits and are likely to set high limits or none at all.”
“And with regard to the absence of cost-benefit analysis, isn’t this an amazing way to make public policy on the run – announce a wide-ranging measure impacting on millions of people, and only after that perhaps look to see what it might cost,” Peter Newell said.
· Mandatory pre-commitment has never been trialled in Australia
· There are 5,700 clubs and pubs across Australia and employing 268,000 people directly
· There are 10.5 million club memberships nationally
· 5 million people play a poker machine each year
· There are 95,000 problem gamblers in Australia (2% of poker machine players)
· The rate of problem gambling has fallen in every state over the past decade. In NSW, QLD and VIC, the rate has fallen by an average of 44%
· Andrew Wilkie has admitted gaming revenue will fall by up to 40% or $4.8b annually
· State and Territory governments will lose over $1 billion in gaming tax annually as a result of mandatory pre-commitment technology
· The Productivity Commission found that poker machines make a net positive social contribution of between $768 million and $5.5 billion a year.