As I discussed here, it seems that our politicians have no policies when it comes to gambling reform. No policies to tackle problem gambling. No inclination to change the gambling landscape in this country… and let’s face it, when you look at countries with the highest number of poker machines, and look at the relative populations, sadly Australia comes out on top of the heap. More about that another time.
So if our pollies have no intention of reforming our gambling industry, I guess I’ll have to donate some policies of my own. Ms Gillard? Mr Abbott? Feel free to make use of any of the following.
The Cyenne Gambling Reform Policy Statement
The gambling industry in this country has become an embarrassment, both locally and on the world stage. Australians lose $18 billion a year gambling; $12 billion of this comes from poker machines, and almost $5 billion is spent by problem gamblers to the detriment of themselves, their families and society in general. Billions more is spent addressing this social impact.
Australia has more poker machines per person than almost every other country in the world; the only countries with more are small nations (population less than one million) with gambling and casinos as their primary sources of finance and tourism, such as Monaco and Macau.
Local councils are increasingly fighting back against proposed gambling developments in their areas, with the blessing of their constituents and at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars, only to find that the bureaucratic process has been stacked against them.
And yet the problem gambling condition remains largely misunderstood, with a significant proportion of the population believing that problem gamblers are stupid, lazy, irresponsible and have only themselves to blame.
Sports betting is the latest growth sector of Australia’s gambling industry. Our professional sports, watched and followed by millions across the country every week, have been infiltrated by sports betting agencies to the point where almost every sporting telecast has become an advertisement for their services. This invasive marketing of sports betting is corrupting our sports and influencing all who watch, including our children.
Reform of the gambling industry is desperately overdue. Our government needs to demonstrate that it is the Australian people that they serve, not the interests of the gambling industry and the clubs, pubs and hotels of this nation.
The following measures should be implemented immediately:
* Maximum bet per button push should be capped to $1.
* Note acceptors (on machines) should only accept denominations of $20 or less.
* Poker machine jackpots should be prohibited, as a means of inducing people to gamble.
These changes will still allow people to partake in recreational gambling, but will assist in minimising the harm that problem gamblers can cause. They will also help prevent problem gambling behaviours from developing going forward.
* Self-exclusion arrangements should be able to be initiated immediately (at a venue), as well as family members (subject to evidence).
* Full pre-commitment systems for EGMs should be implemented.
These changes will allow gamblers, both problem and recreational, to better monitor their gambling, and exercise greater control over their actions.
* Prohibit venues from offering inducements that may lead to problem gambling.
* Prizes above $300 should be payed by cheque.
* Gaming rooms in all hotels and clubs should have a shut-down period, starting no later than 2am and lasting no less than 6 hours.
Gambling venues must realise that they have a responsibility to their patrons, and should operate in a manner that does not encourage the development of problem gambling behaviours.
* The number of poker machines in this country, as compared against our population, should be capped at 1 poker machine for every 200 people.
Australia already has far more poker machines, compared to its population, than any other country with a significant population (greater than one million). Capping the number poker machines in this country at 1 machine per 200 people will result in the removal of over 80,000 machines, while still allowing more than 100,000 machines for recreational use. Gambling establishments affected by this should be reimbursed for the cost of the machines removed, but not for lost revenue.
* Establishments that provide gambling facilities should be called gambling venues, not gaming venues.
* 25% of all poker machine revenue, pre-tax, should be committed to problem gambling assistance and gambling reform activities.
It is critical that the public perception of gambling and problem gambling is changed.
note: sports betting does not include the racing industry (horses and greyhounds)
* Advertising of sports betting companies should be restricted to the promotion of their web sites and contact details.
* Sports betting companies should be prohibited from promoting their products and odds during sports telecasts.
* The media (television and radio presenters) should be prohibited from discussing and promoting gambling odds and products on air.
The uncontrolled promotion of sports betting companies and facilities needs to be curtailed immediately. If poker machine advertising is deemed harmful enough to be tightly controlled and in most cases prohibited, sports betting advertising should also be considered in the same way.
All sports betting agencies operating in Australia have a significant online presence. Sports betting advertising should be restricted to the promotion of their web sites, as any interested parties could then decide for themselves if they wanted to participate. Sports betting companies would be free to promote their products on their web sites and, in a limited fashion, on other web sites on the internet.