Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 13 Hansard (Thursday, 2 November 2017) . . Page.. 4958 ..
I am pleased to bring this forward today. I am not sure if I am going to receive the support of the Assembly, but I must put these things on the table and we will continue to work with this Assembly to get an outcome on this bill.
MR RAMSAY (Ginninderra—Attorney-General, Minister for Regulatory Services, Minister for the Arts and Community Events and Minister for Veterans and Seniors) (5.01), by leave: I move amendments Nos 1 and 2 circulated in my name together and table a supplementary explanatory statement to the government’s amendments [see schedule 3 at page 4969]. The debate shows that the government is living up to its commitment to bring forward innovative, robust harm minimisation reforms. The decision to allow electronic poker machines at the casino came from the belief that gaming should be regulated to benefit our community as a whole.
There are clear economic benefits from promoting redevelopment at the casino, but we also know from the evidence that electronic gaming machines create a serious risk of harm to people who gamble. It was an important decision, and the government convened a panel of experts to provide advice. What the experts found was that because no jurisdiction currently has a per spin bet limit below $5, definitive conclusions about the impact of a $1 limit are hard to draw. At the same time the panel advised that the other key measure in this legislation—mandatory precommitment—is one of the strongest protections available.
Based on the expert panel and in light of the strong protections in addition to a bet limit in this bill, the government believes a bet limit of $2 is the most reasonable outcome for this Assembly to arrive at. This change draws together the principles of economic benefit, consumer choice and gambling harm minimisation in a way which is nation leading. Today’s debate on bet limits and, indeed, on the principle of having electronic games at the casino resolves conclusively that gaming in the territory at any venue will be regulated in the best interests of the community as a whole.
MR PARTON (Brindabella) (5.03): I will respond with some of the research evidence in this space. In one of the only empirical studies to specifically research the effects of reducing Australian EGM bet limits to in this instance $1, the authors—Blaszczynski, Sharp and Walker—found that 7.5 per cent of problem gamblers were betting above the dollar limit in this study. The implication remained that 92.5 per cent of the problem gamblers—those experiencing the greatest harm from gambling—were betting below $1.
In addition, Park, Park and Blaszczynski, last year evaluated the evidence base for a proposed stake size reduction to £2 on some machines in the UK, and I think it is valid in this debate. Their research showed that problem gamblers are distributed across the full range of staking behaviours, but there are significant numbers of problem gamblers at lower staking levels and significant numbers of non-problem gamblers at higher staking levels. Therefore, the measure would fail to reach many problem gamblers and would impact on many non-problem gamblers. So I just ask: what is the point?