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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 9 Hansard (22 August) . . Page.. 3178 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (Chief Minister, Minister for Community Affairs and Treasurer) (4.03): Mr Deputy Speaker, in light of Mr Kaine's comments I am able to provide the Assembly with an amount of information about the issues that he has raised. Our dog, the Gambling and Racing Commission, has been able to supply me with that information. I point out that Mr Rugendyke asked whether information was available. On the basis of his request, I asked the commission to obtain some information from clubs concerned, and that information has been made available.

In a minute I am going to put some of that information on the table, but some of it has been provided by clubs in good faith. I do not wish to have the information placed on the public record because it may be commercially sensitive to the clubs concerned. What I will do, though, is offer members of this place who would like to see it a chance to peruse this brief so that they are able to acquaint themselves with the position. I will come to that information in a moment, Mr Deputy Speaker.

The Gaming Machine Amendment Bill, as members have heard, restricts the hours of operation of gaming machines in the territory so that there is a three-hour shutdown of machines each day, commencing at either 4 am or 5 am, and coinciding with the break in service of alcohol at licensed premises. At the moment we do not have any such restrictions, but in recent days an increasing number of clubs have been trading 24 hours a day. There are currently eight or nine such clubs in the ACT offering 24-hour a day facilities, and to the best of my knowledge all of those clubs also offer access to poker machines during the hours that they are open.

Mr Deputy Speaker, members are well aware of the debate that has raged in this community in recent months and years on the question of the harmful effects of gambling, and on the way in which we might encourage harm minimisation measures in relation to all forms of gambling, particularly with poker machines. Members would be aware of the recently released ACT gambling impact study undertaken by the Australian Institute for Gambling Research for the Gambling and Racing Commission. This benchmarking study conducted in the ACT found that problem gamblers were more likely to use gaming machines than other forms of gambling.

The ACT had the second highest expansion per capita on gaming machines for all states and territories. The survey found that 92 per cent of respondents considered that the number of gaming machines in the ACT should either stay the same or decrease. The community is of the view that there are sufficient or too many opportunities for gambling at the present time, particularly as far as gaming machines are concerned.

It is disturbing to note that the ACT survey estimates that ACT residents with gambling problems represent 1.9 per cent of the ACT's adult population, about 5,300 adults. The impact of this problem is even more significant when one adds the multiplier effect of 1 on 7 that one could usually apply in these circumstances. It gives us a total figure of people affected adversely in some way by gambling of 37,000. The survey tells us that gaming machines are the main source of problems for ACT gamblers. The negative impact of gaming machines can be very pronounced for some people.

Mr Deputy Speaker, a few years ago we took the decision to provide a break in trading hours in the ACT so that it was not possible to drink 24 hours a day in licensed premises. I believe it is appropriate for us to make the same provision with respect to access to the

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