Friday, October 14, 2011

Pokie proposal a win-win, Greens say - 14th October 2011


Gaming Clubs Clubs Australia Politics Politics Canberra Australia

Limiting poker machines to $1 bets and $500 jackpots is a win-win for all sectors of the gambling industry, Greens leader Bob Brown says.

The Greens have put forward an alternative gambling policy that eliminates the need for controversial mandatory pre-commitment on low-intensity poker machines.

Gambling clubs and operators, including James Packer's Crown Casino, have reportedly set up a $40 million war chest to fight mandatory pre-commitment.

Senator Brown described the Greens' policy as a "win, win win", as it would satisfy the pokie operators while dealing with the $5 billion scourge of problem gambling and satisfying anti-gambling campaigners.

Brown said in Melbourne national politicians felt a responsibility to tackle the problem.
"There's no doubt some clubs will, and potentially casinos and state governments will, see a loss in revenue," he said.

"But this is very well targeted, so that loss in revenue is not going to come from the 90 per cent of ordinary gamblers who put a few dollars through the machines each week, but the problem gamblers," he added.

Greens gambling spokesman Senator Richard Di Natale said he had sent the policy to anti-gambling campaigners Andrew Wilkie and Nick Xenophon, the other independents and the Federal Government.

"We think it's really important that in a very toxic debate, particularly with the clubs running a deceptive campaign in the way that they are doing, that we put another option on the table," he said.

"It gives us more chance of success.

He added it won't get rid of problem gambling altogether, but would have a significant impact and would reduce the risks for problem gamblers.

Mr Wilkie said he was pleased the Greens' policy dovetailed with his reforms, which included $1 bets and mandatory pre-commitment on high-intensity machines.

"I'm continuing to work with the Federal Government to implement our reforms, which have not changed in any way," he said.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said she was committed to helping problem gambling but wanted venues which would allow people "a good night out".

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