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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 22 September 2010) . . Page.. 4243 ..

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

MR SPEAKER (Mr Rattenbury) took the chair at 10 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Gaming Machine (Problem Gambling Assistance) Amendment Bill 2010

Ms Hunter, pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MS HUNTER (Ginninderra—Parliamentary Convenor, ACT Greens) (10.01): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

The ACT Greens are introducing this bill today to establish a mandatory contributions scheme from gaming revenue to provide funds to be used to alleviate or minimise the harms caused by problem gambling in the ACT. Lifeline Canberra now estimates that there are around 6,000 people in the ACT with a significant gambling problem. This is an increase on the figures provided by the Australian Institute for Gambling Research in 2001, when they estimated that around 1.9 per cent of the ACT’s adult population, or 5,300 people, were problem gamblers. This is a significant increase, well beyond population growth, that shows we are not doing enough to address this issue.

The increase in the prevalence of problem gambling is also demonstrated by the number of clients with gambling difficulties seen by Lifeline Canberra. Over the last 10 years, there has been a more than 40 per cent increase in the number of people accessing these services. Gaming machine patrons represent over three-quarters of these clients.

Compared to the Australian average, gambling expenditure in the ACT is predominantly on gaming machines. Australian gaming statistics show that gaming machine expenditure represents 83 per cent of the ACT gaming expenditure. The Australian average is 58 per cent.

But it gets worse. Lifeline estimates that, for each problem gambler, about seven others, usually family members, are affected. This means that approximately 12 per cent of our population, that is, 42,000 people, are negatively affected by problem gambling. That is the equivalent of three times the crowd capacity at Manuka oval. The significant social cost of problem gambling across Australia was identified in the 2010 Productivity Commission report released in June this year as being at least $4.7 billion per year.

The ACT Council of Social Service, in their submission to the Productivity Commission inquiry into gambling, indicated their research found that ACT gamblers

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