Page 1670 - Week 05 - Thursday, 11 May 2017

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number of operational machines is declining for a number of reasons, including club closures. There have been eight club closures so far and the number of machines per adult operated by community clubs, as I have said, will continue to decline as clubs diversify.

But if this government were serious about that, if this government, which includes Mr Rattenbury, genuinely wanted our community clubs to diversify faster away from poker machines, they must clear the way for them to do just that.

I have mentioned the low problem gambling rate in Canberra. Minister Ramsay has acknowledged that the ACT’s problem gambling rate was 0.4 per cent or about 1,000 people out of an adult population of just under 300,000. This compares very favourably to problem gambling rates in other states, including New South Wales at 0.8 per cent and Victoria at one per cent.

The ACT, certainly comparatively speaking, does not have a massive problem. The rate—0.4 per cent—is less than half of one per cent of the adult population. We are not talking about a pandemic. We have more people addicted to chocolate in this town than are addicted to gambling.

ACT clubs have facilitated a total of 520 self-exclusions, demonstrating their capacity to assist problem gamblers in addressing their issues. The current motion says that problem gamblers account for 64 per cent of losses from poker machines. The latest study published by the ANU and the Gambling and Racing Commission states that problem gamblers account for 15.6 per cent of losses from poker machines, not 64 per cent.

Mr Rattenbury is using some pretty creative and imaginative analogies to create a conspiracy relating to poker machines. We say that poker machines are designed to be entertaining and are a legitimate leisure pastime that many Australians enjoy responsibly. The Australian poker machine legislation, regulations and standards emphasise the objectives of integrity, fairness and harm minimisation.

When it comes to those machine standards, we should note that all poker machines and games are subject to an extensive approval and testing process with state and territory government regulators. Every aspect of these machines is governed by a range of stringent legislation, regulations and standards to ensure integrity and fairness. Complying with myriad government requirements to approve a gaming machine is a process that takes a minimum of 12 months to complete and often much longer.

That process includes submitting games and machines to independent and licensed testing facilities to ensure that Australians play compliant, safe machines. There are no “near miss” machines in Australia. Machines clearly display one of two possible outcomes, a win or a loss, for each and every bet. Australia and New Zealand have the slowest machines in the world. They are designed and regulated to limit play speed. The gaming industry supports the employment of many thousands of Australians. Poker machines are only a single part of an entertainment experience enjoyed by millions of Australians.

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