Pokie bet limits are an essential part of any casino proposal in Canberra
The Canberra Gambling Reform Alliance (CGRA) has called on the ACT Government to maintain their commitment to protecting people from gambling harm in response to the poker machine manufacturers suggesting that more stringent pokie bet limits in the Casino would be difficult to introduce and are unnecessary.
“The evidence is unequivocal that bet limits are an important part of the mix in relation to reducing the level of gambling harm. The current $10 bet limit means that it costs gamblers more than $1000 per hour to play the pokies. No other recreational activity routinely costs consumers this much money. People experiencing gambling harm are more likely to be betting at a high level of intensity. Lowering bet limits is one of the most effective ways to protect consumers from gambling harm” said Rebecca Vassarotti, co chair of the Canberra Gambling Harm Alliance in response to the comments.
“While disappointing, we shouldn’t be surprised that industry is suggesting that new regulation would be difficult to implement. CGRA is not convinced that significant modifications to machines would be needed as part of any proposal for the Casino to have pokies with a lower bet limit – currently machines require a limit and these limits are different in different jurisdictions.
“Gaming Technologies Association (GTA) represents members such as Aristocrat Leisure, a $14 billion company. GTA’s complaint that it cannot afford to modify its machines is not just absurd – it is a slap in the face of all those who have been harmed by the poker machines in Australia.
“An industry that has designed some of the most lucrative products in the world is surely able to develop a technical response to reasonable consumer protection regulation. The ACT Government will not tolerate the sale of cars without seatbelts – nor should it tolerate the sale of poker-machines without the handbrake of $1 bet limits.
“The Alliance urges the ACT Government to implement the recommendation from the 2010 Productivity Commission Inquiry into gambling to introduce $1 bet limits, not just in the casino but across the ACT. There is an urgent need for a much lower bet limit than $5 and $10. This would be supported by the community. A ReachTEL poll commissioned by Anglicare and CGRA earlier this year found that that 78% of Canberrans want $1 maximum bets.
“It is time to put the community before big business and ensure that any proposal for pokies in the Casino is complemented with strong harm minimisation measures” concluded Ms Vassarotti.
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 0401533266
 The Productivity Commission estimated that gambling on a poker machine in Canberra with the maximum bet of $10 per spin costs an average of $1200 an hour, see https://www.pc.gov.au/inquiries/completed/gambling-2009/report/gambling-report-volume1.pdf table 11.1
 Productivity Commission (2010), table 11.3