Page 1663 - Week 05 - Thursday, 11 May 2017
(d) the Parliamentary Agreement for the 9th Legislative Assembly includes commitments to reduce harm from gaming through reducing the number of poker machine licences in the ACT down to 4000 by 2020 and exploring mandatory pre-commitment and bet limits for poker machines; and
(3) calls on the ACT Government to:
(a) investigate changes to the Gaming Machine Act 2004 to apply the $250 cash withdrawal limit in gaming venues to all cash facilities, including EFTPOS facilities; and
(b) increase the transparency of the social impact assessment process to allow easy access to relevant documents and enable all Canberrans to contribute to decisions regarding the presence of poker machines in their local communities.
The Greens have long been calling for measures to protect people in our community from the harm caused by addictive gambling and poker machines. Today I am bringing this motion to the Assembly to seek the support of colleagues on both sides of the chamber to start tackling this issue by closing existing loopholes to reduce harm and improve transparency.
We know that poker machines are addictive and manipulative and are designed that way so that people lose money. Surveys estimate that around 15 per cent of people who play the pokies regularly are problem gamblers and that their share of total spending on poker machines is around 40 per cent. The ANU Centre for Gambling Research found that moderate-risk and problem gamblers accounted for 21 per cent of losses from poker machines, even though they represented only two per cent of the ACT’s adult population. It is essential that our legislation recognises the potential for harm and provides adequate protection for those people who are at risk of addiction.
This motion is an important first step in a broader conversation we need to have about how best to reduce harm from poker machines here in the territory. As we said at the election, the Greens support the Productivity Commission’s recommendations for a suite of harm minimisation measures, including mandatory pre-commitment and $1 maximum bet limits. I recognise that these would be significant changes and that we need to continue to consult the clubs and the wider community as part of this process. But there are some changes we can introduce in the short term which will make a significant difference to those people affected by problem gambling without creating an unreasonable barrier for other casual players and those who do gamble within their limits.
As a first step we have already started to reduce the total number of poker machines in the ACT. The Greens have called for a 30 per cent reduction over 10 years, bringing us in line with the average number of machines per capita across other jurisdictions. As part of this process we are pleased to have secured a commitment in the parliamentary agreement to reduce by around 20 per cent the number of poker machine licences from nearly 5,000 to 4,000 by 2020, and I am pleased that we were