Victoria’s new voluntary pre-commitment card for poker machines looks set to be declared a dud, with pokies losses increasing since the scheme began.
The scheme, called YourPlay, was rolled out across all Victorian poker machine venues on December 1 2015. The card allows gamblers to set limits on their time or spending, but is voluntary to use and does nothing to enforce those limits.
The price-tag for introducing YourPlay was $197 million. The government raised this money mainly by imposing additional fees charges on poker machine venues, which were then (in most cases) passed on to the public.
Yet figures released today by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) show that since YourPlay was introduced, losses on poker machines in Victoria have increased. For the month of December 2015, losses went up by over $700,000 compared to December 2014, even though there were 12 fewer venues and almost 300 fewer machines in operation in December 2015.
Since its conception, YourPlay has enjoyed bi-partisan support; it was devised by the former Coalition state government, then championed and implemented by the current Labor administration, despite strong criticisms of the scheme by gambling reform advocates, researchers and academics. Yet it’s clear that this level of support does not extend to the public.
I have gone on record many times to state that YourPlay won’t work. I wrote about it on this blog in July 2015, and again in December 2015 when the card was launched. A voluntary solution can never work when it comes to poker machines; the machines are too well engineered to grow addictive behaviour in gamblers, and the industry has too many ways to get around voluntary restrictions.
YourPlay looks destined to become just another costly ineffective attempt by the government to be seen to be doing something. As long as they continue to rake in tax revenue from poker machines, to the tune of $1 billion per year, that will never change.