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Alliance calls for $1 bet limits for pokies in Canberra Casino

Time for ACT Government to demonstrate its commitment to the community and introduce meaningful bet limits as part of the Casino pokies regime

As the ACT Legislative Assembly prepares to debate the bill to introduce poker machines in the Casino, the Canberra Gambling Reform Alliance calls on ACT Government to require these poker machines to be subject to $1 bet limits.

“Low bet limits are one of the most effective ways to reduce gambling harm for people who regularly playing the pokies. This is one way we can protect people who are experiencing harm without significantly impacting on recreational gamblers” said Rebecca Vassarotti, co-chair of the Alliance.

“We are calling on all members of the Legislative Assembly to engage with the evidence and respond with sensible restrictions that get the balance right between consumer protection and business profit”.

“In its landmark inquiry into gambling in Australia, the Productivity Commission noted that current limits in jurisdictions that vary between $5 and $10 do little to protect consumers, and that $1 bet limits would be one of the most effective ways to protect consumers. The Commission Inquiry noted in their report that it is more likely to be problem gamblers who are betting above $1 per push and it is difficult to justify a bet limit much above that level given the harm that problem gambling generates. They stated that a significant reduction in the maximum bet limit would be little harm to most players and would result in a considerable reduction in harm for some.”[1]

“This is unsurprising given the level of harm high bet limits can currently create. There are very few people that could afford to sustain losses of more than $1000 in an hour, which is what the current limits enable.”[2]

“This week, the ACT Government is sponsoring Gambling Harm Awareness Week. This is said to be part of their commitment to reducing harm in our community. The examination of this legislation in the middle of a week designed to focus minds on how we can reduce gambling harm provides a great opportunity for the Government to demonstrate that they are serious about putting the community ahead of the gambling industry and do their part to reduce the level of gambling harm experienced in our community”.

“We know this is what the community wants, given that 78% of Canberrans support a call for $1 maximin bets.[3] It’s time for the ACT Government to step up and protect the community”. Ms Vassarotti concluded.

CGRA is an Alliance of community organisations and individuals who are actively calling for significant reform of gambling legislation to reduce gambling harm. In addition to aligning the rules for ATMs and EFTPOS in venues, they are also calling for a halving of pokies in a decade, the introduction of mandatory pre-commitment in all venues, $1 bet limitations on all machines and an overhaul of the community contributions scheme. 

Media Comment: Rebecca Vassarotti: 0408668963; Jeremy Halcrow 0401533266.

[1] Productivity Commission (2010), table 11.3

[2] The Productivity Commission estimated that gambling on a poker machine in Canberra with the maximum bet of $10 per spin costs an average of $1200 an hour, see https://www.pc.gov.au/inquiries/completed/gambling-2009/report/gambling-report-volume1.pdf table 11.1

[3] ReachTel Poll conducted by CGRA and Anglicare: https://www.anglicare.com.au/new-poll-broad-majority-of-canberrans-support-reforms-to-reduce-gambling-harm/

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