Community funds risk Pokie limits a punt
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.