Com­mu­nity funds risk Pokie lim­its a punt

Townsville Bulletin - - Inside Today - by Bar­bara Lynch

NORTH QUEENS­LAND c o m m u n i t y o r g a n i s - ations would be the first to feel the brunt of spon­sor­ship cuts if a pro­posed bet limit on poker ma­chines was in­tro­duced.

Un­der pro­posed new laws, 14 leagues clubs and ho­tels across Aus­tralia would be re­quired to in­tro­duce a manda­tory pre-com­mit­ment sys­tem for bet­ting.

This means be­fore a per­son can play a poker ma­chine they must reg­ist er f or a ‘ ‘ l i cence t o gam­ble’’ and then set a bet limit. Once the limit was reached, they would be locked out from play­ing any poker ma­chine.

Cow­boys Leagues Club g e ner a l man­ager J o e Kelly said this was not the an­swer to prob­lem gam­bling, which af­fected less than one per cent of T o w n s v i l l e ’ s b e t t i n g pop­u­la­tion.

‘‘ I would sug­gest 90 per cent of clubs would have a lim­ited fu­ture if this was to come in,’’ Mr Kelly said.

‘‘ Peo­ple want a choice. It’s Aus­tralia and not a com­mu­nist coun­try. If you want to have a punt, you should be able to do it and this will make it too hard for peo­ple to have a so­cial flut­ter.’’

Cow­boys Leagues Club has do­nated more than $ 2 mil­lion over the past three years to the North Queens­land com­mu­nity from Mackay to Cape York.

This in­cluded sup­port­ing girl guides and surf life­sav­ing clubs as well as spon­sor­ing five school and univer­sity stu­dents.

‘‘ If your bot­tom line starts be­ing stran­gled, spon­sor­ship and com­mu­nity sup­port will be the first thing to go,’’ Mr Kelly said.

A cut in wages and a rise in un­em­ploy­ment would be next.

‘‘ We are here for the com­mu­nity but not to the detri­ment of our own sur­vival,’’ he said.

Mr Kelly said set­ting a bet­ting limit on poker ma­chines would in­crease on­line gam­bling be­cause it wasn’t mon­i­tored as closely.

He pre­dicted his club would lose 40 per cent of its gam­ing in­come.

‘‘ There is a very big chance we’d have to close the doors. Our fu­ture would be com­pro­mised if it goes to the manda­tory sys­tem and I’d be very sur­prised if any clubs sur­vived,’’ Mr Kelly said.

H e s a i d t h e N o r t h Q u e e n s l a n d C o wb o y s didn’t rely on the leagues club as much as south­ern na­tional clubs did on their leagues clubs.

T h e p r o p o s e d l a w s meant the club would have to in­stall tech­nol o g y c o s t i n g u p t o $ 400,000 to buy out­right or pay $ 1 per day per ma­chine, which would equate to an on­go­ing $ 80,000 per year.

P e o p l e w o u l d a l s o likely have to pro­duce 100 points of iden­ti­fi­ca­tion be­fore set­ting a bet­ting limit.

Clubs Aus­tralia ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor An­thony Ball agreed this pro­posed new sys­tem would not help prob­lem gam­bling.

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