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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 14 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 4658 ..


MS TUCKER (10.32): Mr Speaker, I present the Gaming Machine (Amendment) Bill 1996.

Title read by Clerk.

MS TUCKER: I move:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

Mr Speaker, my hope is that my presentation this morning of the Gaming Machine (Amendment) Bill 1996 will stimulate in and through this Assembly a comprehensive process of research, analysis, discussion and planning to produce a responsible and far-sighted gambling industry plan for the ACT. It is also my hope that members will give unanimous support to the three practical education and mitigation measures that this Bill proposes. They are based on sound research and tried regulatory measures.

Mr Speaker, last year gaming taxes from poker machines alone provided 51/2 per cent of total tax revenue for the ACT. Taxes on all forms of gambling provided 10 per cent of our total revenue. Canberra's 68 licensed clubs provided about 2,000 jobs, $1.1m in liquor licence fees, $27m in rates and salaries and about $2.5m to $3m to charities. Gambling is a major and rapidly growing industry, but it has a major and rapidly growing human fallout. In 1994-95 the ACT had the highest per capita gambling expenditure, of about $800 per person. Five years earlier we spent about half that figure per person. The usual argument runs that 99 per cent of people who gamble do it without problem, and opponents of increased regulation of the industry would contend that the responsible majority should not be inconvenienced because of the irresponsible few. But a closer look at those figures and a closer look at the social and human costs show that the simple 99 : 1 breakdown is a deception of massive proportions.

Many of the figures I am about to quote come from Study 2: An examination of the socio economic effects of gambling on individuals, families and the community, including research into the costs of problem gambling in New South Wales. This study reported in January 1996 and was conducted by a team of acknowledged leaders in research into problem gambling, headed by Associate Professor Mark Dickerson, who was at that time executive director of the Australian Institute for Gambling Research, which is based at the University of Western Sydney. I would like also to acknowledge at this point information contributed by a number of Canberra agencies that assist people with gambling-related problems, including Lifeline, the Salvation Army and CARE, and industry organisations, including Casinos Austria, the Australian Hotels Association and the Licensed Clubs Association. I would also like to acknowledge the work of Canberra Times journalist Peter Clack, who researched a series of major and important articles which appeared earlier this year.

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