Laurie Brown case shows much more needs to be done to regulate harmful gambling products
With the findings of the investigation into case of Professor Laurie Brown released by the Gambling and Racing Commission late last week, the Canberra Gambling Reform Alliance has called for a renewed effort to regulate the ACT’s pokies and the ACT Government to get serious about reducing gambling harm across the Territory.
“Professor Brown’s case highlights the failures of the current system. This patron, who had previously put her hand up as having a problem by placing herself on a self-exclusion list, was able to regain access to a facility she had excluded herself from and then attend club for 160 evenings, withdrawing huge amounts of cash, playing the pokies until late in the night and losing hundreds of thousands of dollars. It beggars belief that an individual can be doing this in a venue without triggering concerns about her welfare. At the very least the club should refund her money” said Rebecca Vassarotti, co-chair of the Alliance today.
“While the club will be fined for failing in their duty of care responsibilities, they are strenuously denying they did anything wrong and have signalled their intention to appeal the decision. The original action and this response demonstrates that clubs just don’t understand the social licence that come with the privilege of operating a product that can cause significant harm. The current approach of expecting clubs to self regulate and promote ‘responsible gambling’ is a failure. They cannot be trusted to self-regulate these dangerous products, and will always choose profits over protecting the community.
The ACT Government’s approach to regulating pokies in the Casino demonstrates that they know the risks and also know the sorts of measures we need to put in place to regulate a product that can cause significant harm to individuals, families and communities. Sensible and modest requirements such as mandatory pre-commitment, bet limits and access to cash would have made a real difference for Professor Brown. Its time to get serious and start regulating these products across the board rather than tinkering around the edges.
“Once again we highlight the fact that there strong community support for these types of measures, with the ReachTEL poll commissioned by the Alliance and Anglicare finding that 78% of Canberrans want $1 maximum bets, 80% want the introduction of mandatory pre-commitment and 78% want access to cash limited to $250 per card per day. Large majorities support these harm minimisation measures among supporters of all political parties” Ms Vassarotti concluded.
CGRA is an Alliance of community organisations and individuals who are actively calling for significant reform of gambling legislation to reduce gambling harm. In addition to aligning the rules for ATMs and EFTPOS in venues, they are also calling for a halving of pokies in a decade, the introduction of mandatory pre-commitment in all venues, $1 bet limitations on all machines and an overhaul of the community contributions scheme. Media Comment can be sought from Alliance Members: Rebecca Vassarotti: 0408668963; Jeremy Halcrow: 0437321451