Pokie – ing their noses in? Or responsible initiative?

December 18, 2012

Pokies news

The hardened average gambler is said spend up to $21000 a year on their pokie addiction alone while their mortgage and household bills lie in wait for who knows how long…  Pre commitment technology is a new government initiative which may force casinos to install pre-set budget technology on their machines so the player is forced to decide upon a budget before playing. Will this force more players to choose to play pokies at online casinos instead of their local pokie venue?

This is all well and good but as with everything there is a price to pay. So exactly who is going to pay for this new initiative? According to ClubsAustralia it’s not likely to be the casinos themselves. Australian taxpayers may be forced to surrender $1500 each to fund the installation of mandatory pre-commitment technology on pokie machines by 2014.

This may or may not be an accurate figure as a spokesman for Community Services Minister Jenny Macklin stated vehemently: ‘There is a lot of misinformation in the community about the costs of implementing pre-commitment.’

However it is important to point out here that the Government’s technical advice states categorically that the costs could exceed $2,000 per machine and according to ClubsAustralia, clubs will be financially crippled by the $3 billion total costs involved. Yet other state government officials argue that there are more than 20,000 pokies in pubs and clubs across southeast Queensland that rake in more than $80 million a month. Furthermore, September audits show that individual pokie machines took more than $4000 per month. Therefore as Macklin frankly argues: ‘Is it acceptable for the big gambling clubs to profit from other people’s misery?

A recent Productivity Commission report stated there are at least 159,000 problem gamblers in Australia who contribute nearly 50% to overall electronic gaming machine revenue, yet an Institute of Public Affairs report released just last week claims the Productivity Commission’s report uses old data, and says a more realistic figure for problem gamblers is in the region of 60,000. But is it just pokies that contribute to gambling issues?

The questions still remain: is problem gambling severe and widespread enough to warrant public spending on pre commitment technology? Should the casinos foot the bill for this themselves or can the government justify spending tax payers money on software designed to stump a determined gambler? What do you think?