Pokie pressure is welcome
AS a swell of high profile opposition rises against the Federal Government’s proposed pokie reforms, Finley Bowling Club manager Fred Braybon said he welcomes the support.
Mr Braybon said it was ‘‘a good sign’’ that the Salvation Army, who had initially backed the blanket gaming reforms, had withdrawn its support and that the Australian Football League and National Rugby League also publicly criticised the idea.
‘‘We are very pleased that both football codes, the AFL and NRL have gotten on board and it doesn’t hurt to have the Salvation Army on our side,’’ he said.
Mr Braybon said Prime Minister Julia Gillard agreed to a gaming reform in exchange for support from Tasmanian Independent Andrew Wilkie during last year’s federal election.
Under the plan anyone wishing to use poker machines must first become a registered player and then nominate the amount they want to spend. Mr Braybon said the proposal would do nothing to assist problem gambling but would devastate country clubs - and the communities they support.
‘‘Mr Wilkie is implying that poker machine revenue is a small percentage of our profit,’’ he said.
‘‘The machines are a big part of our revenue; they are the reason we can donate money back to the community - the lost revenue and costs associated under the plan would be a significant problem for us.
‘‘We are not here to make a huge profit, we are here to break even and if that means we can donate $2000 to the netball club or $3000 to the football club then we are happy.’’
Mr Braybon said the club would only need to lose 20 per cent of its poker machine takings to be in ‘‘serious trouble’’.
It is very frustrating, and an example of poor policy, he said.
‘‘Our revenue is coming from the 99 per cent of non problem gamblers in our community,’’ he said.
‘‘What is getting missed is the pre-commitment scheme won’t help problem gamblers, they will just go online or offshore.
‘‘There is no more effective means to curb problem gambling then by self exclusion. ‘‘We are here to help. ‘‘If our biggest gambler came in and asked for help I would not hesitate.’’
Mr Braybon said Mr Wilkie’s solution is to simply make access to pokies more difficult and it stops gamblers from admitting they have a problem.
‘‘You cannot help someone until they are ready to ask for it, when that happens, there is plenty of help available,’’ he said.
‘‘I would like to see Mr Wilkie trial the legislation in his own Tasmanian electorate and see how it goes.
‘‘We are still just as adamant now, as we were at the start of the debate, that this legislation must be voted down,’’ Mr Braybon said.