Helping problem gamblers
Australians lose about $12 billion a year on pokies. About a third of that is lost by problem gamblers. The Government wants to reduce the level of problem gambling, while still acknowledging that gambling, for many people, is an enjoyable pastime.
One in six people who play the pokies regularly has a severe gambling problem. Three-quarters of people with a serious gambling problem play the pokies.
People who have a problem with their gambling lose an average of $21,000 a year. That’s a third of the average annual salary. Hard earned money that would otherwise be used to pay bills, pay off the mortgage or take holidays with the kids.
But it’s not just about the money. It’s the harm to themselves and their family. Problem gamblers suffer mental and physical health problems, find it difficult to hold down a job, and struggle to maintain relationships.
People with gambling problems are six times more likely than non gamblers to get divorced. They are four times more likely to suffer from alcohol abuse.
The Australian Government’s proposed gambling initiatives are based on the recommendations of the Productivity Commission – an independent, economic advisory body. It found the best way to fight problem gambling is to introduce a full, mandatory pre-commitment system for poker machines.
A pre-commitment system uses simple card-based technology, which has gamblers set their own limits on how much they want to spend before they begin playing. Once that point is reached, all the machines in the venue lock the player out, so they can’t go over their limit.
Regular messages on machines will inform players of the risks of gambling, and tell players the expected hourly rate of expenditure.
Pre-commitment is the most targeted and effective approach to helping people with a gambling problem without adversely impacting on recreational gamblers. And there is now strong consensus that pre-commitment is a helpful tool for problem gamblers and people at risk.
And as a final safeguard, ATMs in pubs and clubs will have a maximum daily withdrawal limit of $250 (excluding casinos). We recognise, however, that some rural venues offer the only local banking facilities in town, so they may need special consideration on our commitment to limit ATM withdrawals.
More information about the Gillard Government’s gambling reforms can be found at http://www.problemgambling.gov.au/
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