Introduction and First Reading
The Hon. J.A. DARLEY ( 16:32 :54 ): Obtained leave and introduced a bill for an act to amend the Gaming Machines Act 1992. Read a first time.
The Hon. J.A. DARLEY ( 16:34 :18 ): I move: That this bill be now read a second time.
I am very pleased to introduce the bill into parliament. The bill, in part, replicates a bill I introduced into this parliament almost a year ago in July 2016. The 2016 bill had two elements to it: $1 bet limits on pokies, and to remove EFTPOS facilities from gaming venues. This current bill has removed the former and only deals with the latter, that is, to remove EFTPOS facilities from gaming venues. Recently, Associate Professor, Michael O'Neil from the South Australian Centre for Economic Studies, wrote to us all about this issue. I would like to read his letter onto the record:
To whom it may concern: in protecting the most vulnerable with respect to gambling I wrote the paper 'Stop: Wrong Way Go Back' with respect to access to EFTPOS introduced into gaming areas in South Australia. I made the point that South Australia is the only State/Territory to allow access to cash in a gaming area under the dubious premise that staff would have face to face contact with any person wanting to use EFTPOS inside a gaming area. No case (evidence-based) was advanced that staff in a gaming area in South Australia are more numerous or more qualified to intervene than in any other jurisdiction and hence there is no basis to justify the claims of government that this would occur. The Productivity Commission has in both their reports of 1999 and 2009-10 strongly recommended that access to cash should be prohibited inside gaming areas which is why, for example, ATMs are not allowed inside gaming areas in hotels, clubs and casinos.
As the first article demonstrates access to EFTPOS in a gaming area allows any person to bypass ATM limits and in fact in South Australia they can access both an ATM in the venue and now EFTPOS. This is poor public policy with respect to protecting the most vulnerable (and even University Professors) and individuals in personal life circumstances where they may be vulnerable (such as loss of a partner, loss of a family member, situations of vulnerability such as divorce, ill health, loneliness, unemployment/redundancy, etc.).
As my late father, a wonderful teacher of Latin would often cite, ' Primum no nocere ' , the Latin phrase meaning 'first, do no harm' is a core tenet or principle of public policy. The decision of the South Australian Parliament to allow access to cash inside a gaming area without any proof that this would not exacerbate harm trashes that principle. Gambling researchers Australia wide have consistently reported that staff are not properly trained to intervene and in many cases are not encouraged to intervene as the first article confirms. That Parliament places the onus of intervention onto staff in hotels and clubs, in many cases quite young staff relative to gaming patrons, is an abrogation of its responsibility. The onus is on Parliament to ensure that public policy decisions do not permit harm!
The second excerpt from Commonwealth Social Security Law with respect to recipients of social welfare payments who are involved in the Cashless Debit Card Trial specifically restricts pa yments so as not to be used for , inter alia, gambling. This requirement in law demonstrates both the concern of the Commonwealth with respect to vulnerable individuals (and families) and a recognition of the necessity of consumer protection with respect to gambling.
It seeks to protect the individual and families from the impact of problem gambling and/or excessive gambling. While there is community debate about this policy (e.g. some argue it is paternalistic, interventionist, denial of individual choice and debases individual responsibility) what the Social Security Law in practice is intended to do is 'to do no harm'. It is intended to place a restriction on the amount that is able to be gambled.
In contrast, the South Australian Parliament through the policy decision to allow greater opportunities to access to cash with which to gamble, effectively places no restriction on the individual and potentially contributes to the exploitation of the most vulnerable, That decision should be reviewed. The State has an obligation to protect the individual. It has an obligation to do no harm.
(signed) Assoc. Professor Michael O'Neil
SA Centre for Economic Studies
This bill is in direct response to this correspondence and only contains the elements Professor O'Neil raised: the issue of EFTPOS in gaming machine venues.
The ability for gaming venues to have EFTPOS facilities in their gaming areas was introduced in 2015 by the government. I opposed the measure then and now, backed by the additional information from Professor O'Neil, I am seeking to remove these provisions. Allowing EFTPOS in gaming venues increases the risk to vulnerable problem gamblers and goes against the Productivity Commission recommendations of limiting access to cash in gaming areas. I commend the bill to the chamber.
Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. T.J . Stephens.