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Statutes Amendment (Gaming Prohibitions) Bill

Introduction and First Reading

The Hon. J.A. DARLEY ( 16:16 :59 ): Obtained leave and introduced a bill for an act to amend the Casino Act 1997 and the Gaming Machines Act 1992. Read a first time.

Second Reading

The Hon. J.A. DARLEY ( 16:18 :10 ): I move: That this bill be now read a second time.

The purposes of this bill are very simple. First of all, it introduces $1 maximum bet limits on gaming machines. Secondly, it removes EFTPOS facilities from gaming areas. The argument for a $1 maximum bet limit is one which we have all heard before. It will reduce the harm caused by gambling by limiting the amount that can be lost. Those who play high-intensity gaming machines have the potential to lose $1,500 or more per hour. Capping bets at $1 will restrict the losses to about $120.

The Productivity Commission recommended that bets be limited to $1 in its 2010 report, and there has been widespread agreement that such a limit would be a great help in addressing problem gambling. Australians lose $16 billion a year on gambling, and we spend more on gambling per capita than any other country in the world, and yet this simple amendment to help minimise these losses and to help vulnerable problem gamblers continues to be opposed by the major parties.

I moved amendments last year to introduce maximum $1 bets, and they were not supported. Essentially, by refusing to support this measure, both Liberal and Labor are sending a message to the community that they do not care about trying to help problem gamblers and, instead, are happy to continue to profit from their misery. That is a terrible predicament, and I hope that time will have changed their position on this matter.

The other part of the bill removes EFTPOS facilities from gaming areas. When the Statutes Amendment (Gambling Measures) Bill was introduced in 2015, I expressed my concern about the introduction of EFTPOS facilities in gaming areas. I still hold those views and am now supported by the South Australian Centre for Economic Studies' report on EFTPOS in gaming venues, which clearly concluded that the addition of EFTPOS facilities was a bad move, especially for problem gamblers.

By passing the above bill last year, South Australia became the only jurisdiction in Australia to allow this practice. In its 2010 report, the Productivity Commission recommended restricting access to cash in gaming venues. The government's proposal not only went directly against this recommendation and allowed further access to cash in gaming venues, it allows access in the actual gaming area. Again, I stress that we are the only ones in Australia to allow this.

The Productivity Commission stated in its 2010 report on gambling that higher-risk gamblers are more likely to use ATMs and EFTPOS facilities in gambling venues for gambling than other gamblers. In other words, if anyone were to utilise ATMs or EFTPOS facilities in gaming venues, it is more likely to be a problem gambler. Recreational gamblers are not using these facilities as much, and it is more likely that problem gamblers—those we should be protecting—would use ATM or EFTPOS in gaming venues.

The report also noted that the presence of these facilities contributed to problem gambling and that problem gamblers themselves often wanted these facilities removed from gaming venues. When putting forward this proposal in 2015, the government argued that allowing EFTPOS in gaming venues would allow for greater interaction between gaming attendants and patrons and would give greater opportunity for attendants to identify problem gamblers.

However, attendants should already be observing patrons and be able to identify when they are exhibiting problem gambling characteristics, and there are still many problem gamblers who slip between the cracks. In short, the South Australian Centre for Economic Studies' report on EFTPOS in gaming venues sums it up well, by stating that:

This policy goes against all the evidence obtained from problem gamblers themselves and recommendations provided by the Productivity Commission based upon their own research and supporting analysis from various gambling studies into problem gambling.

It was a bad move by the government and this is now their opportunity to put it right. I know the Hon. Rob Brokenshire has a very similar bill and I want to thank him and all my crossbench colleagues, including the Hon. Tammy Franks from the Greens and the Hon. Kelly Vincent from Dignity for Disability, for supporting these measures.

I know it is unusual for two similar bills to be introduced into this place, but I felt that it was important that we reinforce the importance of this issue. I commend all honourable crossbenchers for being united on this most important matter and seek leave to conclude my remarks at a later date.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.

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