Gam­bling on fu­ture

Townsville Bulletin - - Voice Of The North - opin­ion Jenny Mack­lin, Min­is­ter for Fam­i­lies, Hous­ing, Com­mu­nity Ser­vices and In­dige­nous Af­fairs.

or pay­ing bills. That’s why the gov­ern­ment is com­mit­ted to in­tro­duc­ing re­forms to re­duce the im­pact of prob­lem gam­bling in our com­mu­ni­ties.

This is no easy task but it is nec­es­sary if we are to pro­vide the duty of care we owe thou­sands of in­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies af­fected by prob­lem gam­bling.

There is al­ready a lot of de­bate in our com­mu­nity about the gov­ern­ment’s re­forms – THE Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment is com­mit­ted to in­tro­duc­ing re­forms to re­duce the im­pact of prob­lem gam­bling in our com­mu­ni­ties.

I know many Aus­tralians like to gam­ble, whether it’s a flut­ter at the races, buy­ing a lot­tery ticket, play­ing the pok­ies at a lo­cal pub or club or a night out at the casino.

I also un­der­stand the im­por­tant role lo­cal clubs and pubs play in our com­mu­ni­ties, pro­vid­ing jobs, sup­port­ing our sport­ing groups and as a fun, wel­com­ing place for peo­ple to get to­gether.

But for some peo­ple gam­bling, and in par­tic­u­lar play­ing the pok­ies, can get out of con­trol with dev­as­tat­ing con­se­quences.

Gam­bling ad­dicts suf­fer men­tal and phys­i­cal health prob­lems, find it dif­fi­cult to hold down jobs, are of­ten in debt to sup­port their gam­bling and can barely main­tain re­la­tion­ships.

One in six peo­ple who play the pok­ies reg­u­larly has a se­ri­ous ad­dic­tion.

Pokie ad­dicts spend an av­er­age of $ 21,000 a year on gam­bling – that’s al­most a third of the an­nual Aus­tralian salary and is money that is not be­ing spent on the fam­ily mort­gage par­tic­u­larly what’s known as pre-com­mit­ment. The idea be­hind pre-com­mit­ment is that we can use tech­nol­ogy to help peo­ple set lim­its on how much they want to spend on the pok­ies and stick to them.

Un­der a pre-com­mit­ment sys­tem peo­ple who play the pok­ies will need a card – just like a club mem­ber­ship or loy­alty card many reg­u­lar pok­ies play­ers al­ready have. De­spite some re­ports, this will not re­quire peo­ple to be fin­ger­printed.

Un­der t he model r ec­om­mended by the in­de­pen­dent eco­nomic spe­cial­ists, the Pro­duc­tiv­ity Com­mis­sion, play­ers can set the limit as high or low as they like – based on what they can af­ford.

This is not about the gov­ern­ment con­trol­ling peo­ple’s money – in fact it’s quite the op­po­site.

It’s about help­ing gam­blers with a prob­lem man­age their own money.

We also un­der­stand the chal­lenges faced by smaller venues, par­tic­u­larly those in ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties.

That’s why we have made it clear we sup­port spe­cial con­sid­er­a­tion for smaller venues on pre-com­mit­ment, con­sis­tent with the Pro­duc­tiv­ity Com­mis­sion’s rec­om­men­da­tions.

I be­lieve that work­ing to­gether we can cre­ate a safe and re­spon­si­ble gam­bling en­vi­ron­ment that con­tin­ues to sup­port a strong and vi­brant club in­dus­try.

BET­TER WAY: Re­forms could help many so­cial prob­lems

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