Pokie pres­sure is wel­come

Southern Riverina news - - News - By Marissa Daly

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.

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