Posted 2/4/11 : Australian ‘pre-commitment' plans for pokies will not work – but will push punters to the internet
The Australian parliamentary select committee on gambling reform was told by a casino executive this week that the federal government’s plan to force limits on how much people can bet on poker machines will not reduce problem gambling, and has been unsuccessfully tried elsewhere.
Pointing to the technological difficulties experienced in Norway, the executive director of ClubsAustralia, Anthony Ball, told the committee that the technology has failed to reduce problem gambling in Norway, where a mandatory pre-commitment technology on poker machines was attempted three years ago.
“The Norwegian Government admits that the rate of problem gambling has actually increased over the past three years," said Ball. "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.
“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," Ball concluded, adding that Australians have made it abundantly clear that the idea of a central government database containing the gambling history of punters is regarded as an intrusion into their the spending and leisure habits.
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