The Canberra Gambling Reform Alliance has welcomed the recognition by the ACT Government that action is needed on gambling harm by introducing new transactions limits for EFTPOS withdrawals in pokies venues but questioned if the measures announced will make a real difference in reducing gambling harm. The new rules include limiting the number of EFTPOS facilities to one, and requiring a trained staff member to be involved in transactions including providing the cash withdrawn in these transactions.
“We welcome the fact that the Government is acting quickly and the new rules will be in place by 1 September. But we doubt that the new rules will make a difference given the patrons will still be able to access large amounts of cash in venues and are dependent on staff and venues taking this issue seriously. We know from the audit of venues in May of this year that clubs cannot be trusted in implement harm minimisation measures. We call on the Government to go much further in relation to access to cash in pokie venues,” said Rebecca Vassarotti, co-chair of the Alliance.
“These measures fly in the face of overwhelming community support to limit access to cash in venues to $250 per card per day.” Last weeks’ ReachTEL poll of 717 Canberra residents commissioned by Anglicare found that 79% of Canberrans agreed with the statement “Cash withdrawals in poker machine venues should be limited to $250 per card per day.”
“It is dangerous to provide ready access to unlimited quantities of cash in close proximity to addictive poker machines. There is no need for multiple mechanisms to withdraw cash in gambling venues. The community expects strong rules including card limits in venues. While transaction limits are a start, the Government must go further to protect consumers”.
“There is no silver bullet when it comes to reducing gambling harm, and we need to see evidence based measures that will make a real difference, and access to cash is a key part of this story. This also means measures such as reduction in the number of machines in the Territory, mandatory pre-commitment schemes and $1 bet limits on machines. We are also keen to explore options being suggested by industry such as a Canberra wide self exclusion scheme.”
“The community has clearly signalled their expectation that the Government will act to reduce the harm caused by poker machines. We are still waiting to seeing real action in this area,” concluded Ms Vassarotti.