Page 4952 - Week 13 - Thursday, 2 November 2017

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moderate risk or people identified as problem gamblers. This means that $10.59 million was lost by people with some level of gambling addiction. It is no longer acceptable to suggest that this is a fringe issue of little concern or that it is simply a matter of people taking personal responsibility for their actions.

The other fact we know is that poker machines are designed to ensure that people play for as long as possible and spend as much as possible. Poker machines cultivate addiction by teaching the brain to associate the sounds and flashing lights that are displayed when a punter wins with pleasure. The machines are then designed to trick players into thinking they are winning when really they have lost money.

The two common features which cause this manipulation are called “near misses” and “losses disguised as wins”. For players experiencing this phenomenon, brain imaging has shown that the pattern of dopamine release that occurs is strikingly similar to that of cocaine use. Poker machines are essentially addiction machines that have been developed over a long period of time to be as attractive to their users as drugs are.

With all of this in mind, the Greens are committed to real reforms that will reduce the impacts of gambling harm on the ACT community. We know that Canberra has too many poker machines, with one of the highest rates of pokies per capita across all states and territories. We have already secured a commitment to decrease the number of pokies from nearly 5,000 to 4,000 by 2020.

In line with this commitment, the Greens said we would not accept any proposal to introduce poker machines into the casino if it would lead to an overall increase in machines in the ACT. Regardless of the venue, being granted a poker machine authorisation is not simply a licence to print money. It is a privilege. It comes with expectations that those machines will be used in a way that is safe and does not put vulnerable people at risk of significant harm.

The Greens believe that this legislation includes a number of important safeguards to make sure that those expectations are met. Through this legislation, we can achieve a worthwhile decrease in the number of poker machines in the ACT, because the legislation requires the casino to participate in a trading scheme at a rate of one machine forfeited for every three purchased. This is a higher forfeit rate than applies currently for the clubs, and this makes sense as the casino will operate as a for-profit entity.

Another important point is that while the casino does have the option of purchasing a number of fully automated table games, or FATGs, the legislation is clear that the licence must be purchased for each terminal on the FATG. These licences will also be counted under the ACT’s cap of 4,000 machines and will also be subject to the conditions of the trading scheme, leading to a further reduction in the number of machines across the territory.

Additionally, the casino will be required to purchase at least 50 per cent of its machines from small and medium clubs, giving those clubs with a smaller number of poker machines an opportunity to divest and use the income to diversify into other

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