In what is arguably the most logical answer to the ever increasing gambling epidemic in Australia – the push for a $1 bet limit on pokies is helping to expose the truth about our Government – a truth that as an Australian I find disturbing and painfully hard to swallow. As the chart below shows (or any number of stats reflecting the state of gambling in this country would show) – Australia has a gambling crisis that is so far gone as to be almost un-salvageable. This is not helped by the fact our own government has absolutely no interest in salvaging it anyway… Luckily for us there are some people in the corridors of power who are at least trying to do something positive about it.

This article aims to bring to light the good fight of people like MP Andrew Wilkie, MP Nick Xenophon, MP Tim Costello, and parties like the Greens who are fighting a seemingly uphill battle against a government that has genuinely lost it’s mind!

australia has a gambling problem and refuses to fix it

australia has a gambling problem and refuses to fix it

The Push for a $1 Bet Limit on Pokies – History & Timeline

  • October 15th, 2011 – The Greens launch a policy favouring the $1 bet limit on pokies

Battle lines are being redrawn over reform of gaming in Australia, with a groundswell of support for a move to put a $1 bet limit on the nation’s 200,000 poker machines.

The Greens yesterday launched a policy favouring $1 bet limits on all machines. This is in contrast to the proposal by the Gillard government and independent MP Andrew Wilkie (pictured below) for mandatory pre-commitment by gamblers on high-intensity machines.

The government has resisted the Greens, insisting it would stand by its pre-commitment deal with Mr Wilkie.

*This deal with the Gillard government for pre-commitment on pokies was railroaded by ClubsNSW and those with influence in the gambling sector who basically used their power to threaten the government with a reduction in gambling revenue should they allow these changes to be implemented. – This of course is further evidence that our own government prioritise revenue over reality – profits over people, and coins over community.

Andrew Wilkie and Prime Minister Julia Gillard then went on to discuss a possible shift away from the pre-commitment model to a full $1 bet limit alternative. of course this was also scrapped due to the same bullying and threats of revenue reduction made by the gambling bodies and various Clubs across Australia.

ClubsNSW love pokie revenue - at any cost

  • June 25th 2014 – The Green introduce a bill to bring about a $1 Bet limit on pokies

The Greens have tabled a bill in the Victorian parliament that would introduce a maximum bet of $1 per spin for the state’s 30,000 poker machines. While the bill is almost certain to fail, the introduction of $1 maximum bets would allow the poker machine industry to truthfully argue it was focused on providing enjoyment and fun to patrons – a claim it can’t, in good faith, make at the moment.

Poker machines in pubs and clubs are supposedly entertainment options for patrons: one of a number of diversions intended to provide harmless amusement. As currently configured, however, they produce significant harm for 30% of regular users.

This is highly inconsistent with their supposed purpose and is further evidence that the Clubs of Australia are intentionally and purposefully using pokies to destroy our country, one community at a time.

High Impact Electronic Gaming Devices –  In Victoria, club and pub poker machines are set to a $5 maximum bet, meaning they can readily accrue $600 average net revenue per hour. In NSW, with maximum bets of $10 per spin, they can make an average $1200 per hour. It is this staggering amount that can be lost that makes pokies the highest impact electronic gaming devices and is a major part of the problem associated with pokies and gambling addiction.

Naturally, the revenue they make is equivalent to the losses incurred by users – across Australia, club and pub poker machines account for 54%, or $11 billion, of our annual gambling losses of $20.5 billion.

This is a staggering amount of money, especially when our research has revealed that the highest pokie revenue streams come from our most disadvantaged suburbs. One of the principal reasons for this is that working-class suburbs are overwhelmingly subject to the colonisation of traditional social spaces (in clubs and pubs) by the poker machine industry.*

*Studies have shown that the 5 suburbs with the highest pokie profits are also the 5 most disadvantaged suburbs according to the ABS.
This fact alone is unequivocal proof that not only are ClubsNSW encouraging and aiding the growth of problem gambling and pokie addiction in this country,
they are actively looking for ways to accelerate it – rejecting any and all legislation that seeks to improve the situation for the 115,000 Australians currently affected by problem gambling
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$1 bet limit on pokies would reduce problem gambling in australia

  • May 2nd 2016 – INDEPENDENT MP Andrew Wilkie is having another crack at legislating a $1 bet limit on pokies.

 

andrew wilkie push for $1 bet limit on pokies

Independent Member for Denison Andrew Wilkie.

Mr Wilkie, a long-standing campaigner against problem gambling, re-introduced a private member’s bill today for mandatory pre-commitment technology and $250 ATM gambling withdrawal limits.

The last time he tried the same measures, with a bill in November 2014, the legislation was never debated** (full story here)

**why would something this logical and positively impacting not even be discussed?! – clearly the tentacles of corruption have made their way into every corridor of power within our own Government

A scathing Mr Wilkie let fly on the major parties, saying none of them were beyond reproach when it came to accepting donations from gambling companies. – and in a perfect segue or at least confirmation of the facts shared thus far, the politicians of South Australia (who were voted into power by the people with the belief that they were looking out for the greater good and the interest of all those ‘people’ or community members that voted them in in the first place) united to block the $1 maximum bet limit from being introduced!

As the cartoon above sadly states, the $1 limit would mean less money for the government – and SHIT, WE CAN’T HAVE THAT NOW?! Yes so the reduction would result in a happier community, a more positive future and a reduction of the $4.7 billion it costs us annually to combat problem gambling related issues – but hello, less money for the government?!? That was clearly not on for the Elected Members of Parliament in South Australia:

 

  • June 2015, South Australian Politicians Make it Official – The Australian Government Hates Australians

June 8, 2015 – SOUTH Australia’s two major political parties have combined to block a push by independent and crossbench MPs to cut the maximum bet limit on poker machines from $5 to $1. (Full story and original source article HERE)

Independent MP John Darley, who was re-elected last year as the lead candidate on the Nick Xenophon Team ticket, has accused Liberal and Labor of being “hooked on the revenue stream” from poker machine gambling after they united in Parliament to block his proposal.

  • SA punters lost $731 million on pokies last financial year as the Government took $288 million in tax.
  • The State Budget expects to receive $1.2 billion from machines over the next four years.

Mr Darley said there were immense social costs incurred due to pokie addiction. “People get so far in debt and the next thing you know they get a speeding fine they can’t pay and that comes before the court,” he told The Advertiser.“There’s a recurring cost there.

“We never, ever get support from the major parties because they’re locked into gambling. They’re hooked on the revenue stream, it’s as simple as that.”

Family First MP Rob Brokenshire Summed it up nicely when he said:

“We are still not convinced that the government’s focus is on addressing issues around problem gambling as much as it is focused on its own gambling addiction,”

 

the government has is actually addicted to gambling

So How Effective Would a $1 Bet Limit on Pokies Actually Be?

 

We ask some of the experts what impact legislation like this would have…

  • Greens MP Tammy Franks said independent evidence showed $1 maximum bets were “one of the most effective things we can do to curb problem gambling”.
  • Business Services and Consumers Minister Gail Gago said the Government’s position had not changed since the maximum bet was cut to $5 in 2013 but the impact would be ‘noticeable and instantly measurable’
  • SA Council of Social Services executive director Ross Womersley said there would a “sensational” decline in problem gambling if $1 maximum bets were introduced.

“The sheer amount of money that can spin out of your hands in a moment is really problematic,” he said. “People chasing their dreams, and losses, are tempted to bet big. This would be one way to minimise that harm.”

Funny Gambling addiction comic

The Government is the One With an Addiction to Pokies

The constant blocking of any and all legislation that seeks to improve the lives of Australians in general is proof enough that our own government is morally absent and genuinely doesn’t care about its own people – and this fact hardly needs backup or any other evidence to support it – but in the interest of showing you just how obvious and in your face this corruption is – please enjoy this list of evidence, I mean revenue streams that the government has been enjoying Year after year – with thanks to the pokies of course

State Government tax revenue from poker machines:

  • 2003 $245 million
  • 2004 $284 million
  • 2005 $296 million
  • 2006 $294 million
  • 2007 $314 million
  • 2008 $295 million
  • 2009 $293 million
  • 2010 $283 million
  • 2011 $292 million
  • 2012 $291 million
  • 2013 $286 million
  • 2014 $288 million
  • 2015 $296 million (predicted)
  • 2016 $311 million (predicted)
  • 2017 $301 million (predicted)
  • 2018 $319 million (predicted)

Sources: Department of Consumer and Business Services, State Budget

Where did it begin and what comparisons do we have?

The last federal attempt to reign in the almost unlimited money-making capacity of poker machines was the introduction of a pre-commitment system to allow gamblers to decide how much they wanted to spend before they started gambling. This – not unreasonable – proposition was met with fierce resistance from the gambling industry, and was ultimately defeated.

However, this push began with independent federal MP Andrew Wilkie’s request for the introduction of a $1 maximum bet, which was subsequently translated by then-prime minister Julia Gillard’s office into an agreement to introduce pre-commitment.

The $1 bet was also proposed by the Productivity Commission and by the federal parliament’s Joint Select Committee into Gambling Reform, which Wilkie chaired. A select committee of the Tasmanian parliamentalso gave it a positive review, but did not recommend its adoption because of the reform moves then underway at the national level.

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The original evidence for $1 bets in an Australian context came from a study by the University of Sydney’s Alex Blaszczynski and colleagues in 2001, and funded by the NSW gambling industry.
This report, for the Gaming Industry Operators Group, was a response to suggestions by the NSW regulator to modify poker machine characteristics in order to reduce harm.
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However, the Blaszczynski report suggested there would be some positive effects from the $1 maximum bet, and from some other machine modifications. It concluded that these were preliminary results and should be subjected to verification by further research. Subsequent scholarly articles by the same research team suggested that reductions in maximum bets produced a positive harm-minimisation effect without reducing amenity for non-problem gamblers.

We can also learn from the British example, where slot machines are categorised according to their maximum bets and prizes, and permitted in specific venues according to such categorisation. There is currently great concern in Britain about high impact gambling machines in betting shops, and for good reason. Fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) allow bets up to £100 with maximum prizes of up to £500.

In 2010-11, these machines accounted for £1.3 billion of the £1.9 billion spent on slot machines outside casinos (69%), despite constituting only about 24% of those machines. FOBTs averaged revenue of more than £40,000 per year compared to the average revenue of no more than £13,000 for machines with maximum bets of no more than £1 or £2, and maximum prizes of between £70 and £500.

However, the UK situation is different. In Australia, club venues are allowed to have hundreds of poker machines in some jurisdictions, and Australian poker machines typically have maximum prizes of $10,000. In the UK, betting shops are restricted to four FOBTs, with prizes as set out above. But what the UK experience demonstrates is the relationship between high bet limits, massive expenditure, and significant gambling harm.

The current $5 maximum bet was introduced into Victoria between 2008 and 2010 without fanfare and without industry opposition. Despite claims to the contrary by the gambling lobby, a $1 maximum bet could be implemented at modest cost to industry if phased in over a period of time, as the Greens bill proposes.

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The introduction of a $1 maximum bet for poker machines might not end problem gambling, but it would certainly reduce its harmful effects, since 80% of problem gambling is associated with poker machine use. It is highly likely to reduce the harm experienced by gamblers and limit the uptake of new problem gamblers. After all, chasing huge losses is one of the common early stages in a problem gambling career.

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