Responding to the news that the ACT Government plans to introduce legislation today to allow 200 poker machines in the casino, the Canberra Gambling Reform Alliance has called on the ACT Government to make sure that this change contributes to reducing the harm caused by poker machines and increasing the protection for the Canberra community.
“We strongly oppose any changes to poker machine licensing that would put more Canberran at risk of harm,” said Rebecca Vassarotti, co-chair of the Canberra Gambling Reform Alliance. “We must not to see the introduction of pokies to Canberra Casino if that causes more harm in the community.”
The Canberra Gambling Reform Alliance strongly urges the government to introduce $1 maximum bets for any poker machines in the casino. “In 2010, the Productivity Commission found that problem gamblers lose around 40% of all the money lost on poker machines and that a $1 maximum bet limit would “strongly target problem gamblers” while most other gamblers would not notice the change.” said Ms Vassarotti.
As the legislation is introduced today, the Alliance also calls on the government to ensure that:
- the introduction of poker machines to the casino results in a net reduction in both the number of poker machines and poker machine venues elsewhere in Canberra;
- any poker machines in the Canberra casino operate according to the recommendations of the Productivity Commission – this means maximum $1 bet limits and mandatory pre-commitment;
- access to cash in the casino is limited to $250 per card per day.
Susan Helyar, Alliance member and Director of ACT Council of Social Service, added: “The Government must ensure the transfer of poker machines from clubs to the casino does not disadvantage the community. We urge Government to mandate that 8% of poker machine profits must be allocated to a community grants scheme that is administered by a body entirely free of influence of the casino or the clubs”.Mr Chris Endrey, Alliance member and community activist, concluded: “It is clear that there is a large majority of support for these measures across the community. Support for gambling harm minimisation measures crosses party lines, and all parties in the Assembly must work together to meet community expectations to better protect the community from products that we know cause harm. A recent ReachTEL poll found 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.”
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; Susan Helyar 0448791987: Chris Endrey: 0401441946