Page 4953 - Week 13 - Thursday, 2 November 2017
business areas. Overall, through this mechanism, we will have fewer machines in Canberra and those clubs that want to divest will have an opportunity to do so.
The other two key features that the Greens wanted to see as part of this package were mandatory precommitment and bet limits. The exploration of these features is a parliamentary agreement item. While it is not ideal to have different conditions on poker machines in different venues across clubs and a casino, the question we are presented with today is specifically about the casino, and we want to see the best harm minimisation there that we can. I also understand that the clubs are currently engaged in discussions about their own approach to harm minimisation and diversification, and I look forward to seeing the outcomes of those discussions in coming months. I guess it is open to them to align themselves with the conditions that the casino will face.
The introduction of mandatory precommitment is an Australian first but is not without an evidence base. The intentionally addictive features of poker machines that I described earlier make it harder for people to make informed and rational choices about their spending. The Productivity Commission found that around 70 per cent of poker machine players report exceeding their spending limits sometimes while 12 per cent exceed those limits often or always. We also know that higher risk gamblers exceed their limits more often and report greater harm when they do.
Precommitment means that when a person plays the pokies they have to nominate how much they are willing to lose, and their session will cease if they reach that level. There are many varieties of precommitment systems and further detail on how this will be implemented will be outlined in the regulation. But the purpose of mandatory precommitment is to help high-risk gamblers control their spending and ensure that the limits they set for themselves are not exceeded. The other key measure that I mentioned is bet limits, and I will speak more on this issue when I move my amendment.
The proposal before the Assembly today will lead to a significant change in how we regulate gambling and poker machines in the ACT. Whilst we are moving away from pokies only being available in our clubs, this legislation provides strong protections to limit harm from problem gambling in the Canberra casino.
Ultimately, the Greens have come to the conclusion that we can support this bill with the inclusion of a lower bet limit. The legislation will reduce the number of poker machines in the ACT and will move 200 machines into a new environment with much higher harm minimisation standards than we currently have.
The legislation will introduce mandatory precommitment. It will also see a reduced bet limit in line with the available evidence. These measures combined will set a new bar for best practice in poker machine regulation, which is an opportunity we cannot and should not ignore. We have come to this position after seeking advice from academic experts and people with lived experience of gambling harm, and we believe it will go some way to improving harm minimisation in the territory.
Of course, there is no silver bullet when it comes to reducing gambling harm, but the Greens believe we must continue to do all we can to better support addicted gamblers