Introduction and First Reading
The Hon. J.A. DARLEY (16:11): 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 (16:12): I move:
That this bill be now read a second time.
I rise to speak on this bill and indicate this will in fact be the third time that I have introduced these measures into this house. In essence, the bill will prohibit EFTPOS facilities being in gaming venues. EFTPOS facilities were introduced into gaming venues in 2015 by the previous government in a seemingly ill-considered move. This went against the Productivity Commission's recommendation to limit access to cash in gaming venues and is a move which has been condemned by the South Australian Centre for Economic Studies. South Australia is not only seemingly the only jurisdiction that allows for EFTPOS facilities in gaming venues but is seemingly the only jurisdiction the world which allows gamblers to access cash by withdrawing money via EFTPOS.
I have said before that this was a bad move and did nothing to protect vulnerable problem gamblers. It is in fact correspondence from a constituent which I received recently that has prompted me to reintroduce this bill into parliament. They wrote:
I have recently returned to South Australia after living in Perth for the past six years. Problem gambling was not a major issue for me in Perth as the Casino was the only location that offered gambling. My withdrawal limits from the ATM machine were $400 and cash withdrawals were not available over the counter by the casino staff. This ensured that any gambling episode could be capped and harm could be minimised.
There was always the option of driving outside the casino complex to make a withdrawal from an ATM machine, but the time outside the venue would ensure I had a level head when making the decision to withdraw more money. Under no circumstances would I withdraw more money than I would have liked to have lost as it would be dangerous to have extra cash in my pocket. During one episode, I reached my maximum $400 withdrawal and left the casino 3 times in total, withdrawing an additional $100 each trip. On my fourth frantic trip towards the ATM machine, I realised how irrational I was being and decided…to go home instead of withdrawing more money.
Now that l am in back in Adelaide, there are avenues to gamble on every major intersection across South Australia at all hours of the day and night. ATM withdrawals are capped at $250, but the introduction of Eftpos facilities over the counter within venues has given me access to unlimited cash withdrawals. Last night, I decided to drop into the pokies with a level head to try my luck with $50 that I withdrew from an ATM on my way to the Britannia Hotel. I received a $2k tax return several days ago and had access to more cash in my account that I have had for a very long time. I was intoxicated when I arrived to the venue and was feeling a little emotionally unstable due to the lack of purpose that I currently have in my life.
The $50 was quickly consumed and I decided to make a withdrawal from the ATM outside the facility of $60, changing $20 of coins at a time. The hotel staff member did her rounds offering patrons coffee, so I opted…for a high quality barista prepared latte. My coins ran out before she returned with my coffee, so I decided to make another $60 withdrawal. Before I knew it I was hypnotised by the sounds and thrill of winning the jackpot. I withdrew another $60 from the machine and another $60 soon after, trying to control my spending by changing $20 of coins at a time. The ATM machine withdrawal [limit] was capped at $250, so I put the sign up onto my machine and advised the gaming staff member that I would be heading out to find a ATM machine outside the venue. This would have given me the opportunity to take a breath of fresh air and reflect on my rationale.
The staff member told me that I can make a withdrawal over the counter via Eftpos and I don't even need to pay a transaction fee. Without even thinking rationally, I opted…to make a withdrawal via Eftpos of $60. I made a further 6 x $60 withdrawals over the counter and lost the money $20 x $1 coins at time. In total I withdrew 7 x $60 over the counter via Eftpos, 4 x $60 from the ATM machine and $50 that I arrived to [the] venue with.
As you might have expected, my anxiety increased after every withdrawal and I was by no means level headed. I was emotionally invested and was fixated on chasing my losses. The gaming staff member didn't attempt to intervene at any point and did her job without question giving me access to cash via Eftpos.
This constituent's experience very clearly shows that the so-called safeguards, which were argued, do not exist. The government at the time argued that by having to make the transaction through a person, it would give the gaming staff member the opportunity to be able to question the person making the withdrawal and offer information on problem gambling if required.
Very clearly, that did not happen with this constituent. No attempts were made to intervene. This constituent was able to gamble away $710 in a very short amount of time, when they would have lost less than half of that if EFTPOS facilities were not there. Our constituent goes on to say:
All I want is to close the loop hole to protect the people of South Australia from having access to unlimited funds for gambling.
That is what I have been asking for as well. Introducing EFTPOS machines in our gaming venues was a bad move. Leaving them there when we know the harm they are causing is worse, and I am pleading with this parliament to right the wrongs of the previous government and remove EFTPOS facilities from gaming venues to give protection to those vulnerable in our community.
Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. T.J. Stephens.