What’s Cooking in Australia?

Federal government’s plan to have adverse effect, claims industry executive

In regards to the Australian federal government’s plans to introduce limits on the amounts punters can bet on poker machines, the executive director of ClubsAustralia, Anthony Ball warned that this will not have the desired effect and reduce problem gambling.

As an example, he pointed to Norway, which tried the same technique some three years ago and failed: “The Norwegian Government admits that the rate of problem gambling has actually increased over the past three years. Not surprisingly, gamblers have simply switched from poker machines to the internet where credit card betting is allowed.

“Mandatory pre-commitment in Norway has failed to deliver what it promised. The country is barely one third of the size of New South Wales, and yet the Norwegian government has managed to link just 2,300 machines in the last 2 years. At that rate it’ll take more than 170 years to network all of Australia.

“The anti-gambling lobby has tried to use the existence of pre-commitment technology in Norway as justification for their refusal to [at least] trial the system in Australia.

“But this claim ignores a recommendation from the Productivity Commission that the technology should be trialled in one state or territory.

“There has never been a trial of this technology in Australia. The federal government knows this; anyone who has read the Productivity Commission’s report into gambling knows this.

“Experts are lining up to reveal this technology for the multi-billion dollar lemon that it is.

“Already Australia’s leading problem gambling researcher has said mandatory pre-commitment won’t reduce problem gambling and could actually delay people from getting help.

Ball concluded saying: “Forcing clubs to spend billions of dollars on a network so the federal government can know how much people are gambling will only kill off clubs and their support for community and sporting groups." He also added that such a move would be regarded as an intrusion into punters’ spending and leisure preferences.

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