Aussie problem gamblers prefer slot machines

Campaigners say slot or fruit machines lie at the heart of a "social emergency".

Australian legislators may seek to stop internet gambling, but the main fave of problem gamblers appears to be land-based slot machines, according to a report from the BBC this week.

The news story was based on a meeting in Sydney by anti-gambling campaigners worried about the incidence of problem gambling in an Australian land industry that prohibits online action.

Activists were seeking ways in which to reduce problem gambling, and considered unsourced studies which purport to show that there are an estimated 300,000 problem gamblers in Australia - the equivalent to the entire population of the national capital, Canberra.

Australia's land gambling industry generates about A$18 billion (US$15billion) annually, delegates were told, with speakers claiming that slot or fruit machines lie at the heart of what was described as a "social emergency".

Independent Senator Nick Xenophon said immediate action is needed and the industry "needs to realise that it’s time is up".

"They can't continue to go with business as usual. It is not tenable for a situation where 50 percent of poker machine losses come from problem gamblers and something has to change," he said.

"There are literally hundreds of thousands of Australians today whose lives are worse off because of a poker machine addiction, either directly or through a member of their family and this is something that we cannot ignore as a very major social issue."

A government Productivity Commission report on gambling in Australia is expected to be released soon.

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