Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 13 Hansard (Tuesday, 10 November 2009) . . Page.. 4682 ..
the consequences of that gambling activity. This bill is an attempt at that balance, and provides a legislative regime in the ACT that is consistent generally with the approaches adopted in other jurisdictions, although not completely, and I will come to that. We are all aware of the concerns continually being expressed about the pervasive influence of problem gambling in our community.
One issue that has been raised in the context of the consultations that have led to this bill being drafted relates to what I will call public gambling tournaments. In some jurisdictions, gambling tournaments, such as poker tournaments, are permitted to be held. In the ACT, these types of tournaments are only permitted in the casino. Public gambling tournaments are held throughout New South Wales, for example, and this means that people from the ACT can travel to Queanbeyan to participate in these tournaments.
The concerns that exist about these types of gambling activities, however, are that they are completely unregulated. Where they cause problems or harm to players, there are no means for dealing with these concerns. They do not generate any return to the public purse. Indeed, one which has been put by the government is that they could lead to more complex community problems. The commission concluded that, on balance, the status quo should prevail with these types of gambling activities. The ACT government accepted that position and the opposition broadly accepts that position also.
The concern with gambling that is never far from the surface is that of problem gambling and the disastrous consequences that can result for the person concerned, for their family, perhaps for their employer and for the community in general. Problem gambling reaches throughout the community and imposes costs on everyone. Of course, we see again on the front page of the Canberra Times today one of the results, it would seem, of problem gambling.
We do see crocodile tears from the government and the Labor Party in this place on the issue of problem gambling. We heard the minister say this in her speech:
While poker tournaments are available in other states, concerns continue to be raised in other jurisdictions over gaming integrity issues, claimed increases in problem gambling and increased availability generally of gambling in the community as a result of these tournaments.
Given what a massive beneficiary of gaming revenue the Labor Party is in the ACT, of course, we know that these are crocodile tears. To put the argument that poker tournaments are going to be the main source in some way of increased incidents of problem gambling is a bit of a joke, coming from the Labor Party.
We do read about some of these cases. They come up from time to time—these tragic cases of people severely addicted to gambling. Of course, a case was mentioned in the paper today where it was alleged that an individual put more than $800,000 through poker machines over two years at the Tradies Club.
The Labor Party in the ACT continues to be a major beneficiary of gaming revenue and will continue to be hopelessly conflicted on this issue as it is such a major