Gambling is a choice that many adults want to freely make. For some people though, the addiction is very real and can be devastating for themselves, their friends, families, and communities.
I value freedom, privacy, and choice, including the choice to gamble on pokie machines. Even though I would not miss pokies if they were gone, the right for you to make your own decisions is important.
Gambling harm is real, and it is something we should be treating far more seriously than we do. The Labor Party will never take real action while their interests are entangled with poker machines. The spin is that the Labor Party does not take donations sourced from poker machines. The reality is that they do take donations from organisations that profit from poker machines.
I plan to reduce gambling harm from poker machines by introducing a mandatory pre-commitment scheme in the ACT. Pre-commitment schemes require gamblers to commit to a maximum loss over a period of time, before they start to gamble. Gamblers have flexibility to set their own loss and their own time period. Mandatory and voluntary options are available, though take-up rates for voluntary schemes has proven to be low.
This approach maintains the freedom of choice for people to gamble, while providing more support for those who need it. Pre-commitment is not a barrier to casual gamblers.
There is evidence that mandatory pre-commitment reduces gambling harm for problem gamblers. Australia has a high number of poker machines per capita, especially when you look outside of gaming venues. We should therefore also set the bar to address problem gambling.
Mandatory pre-commitment has been shown to address gambling harm, so I am sure it is something that clubs would support. I commit to working with these clubs to ensure a smooth and just transition.
- With pokies shut down, coronavirus stress could drive more people to reckless online gambling
- Pre-commitment systems for electronic gambling machines: Preventing harm and improving consumer protection
Banning credit cards for online gambling
Some major banks in Australia block their credit cards from funding online gambling accounts. Other banks provide an option for customers to enable this block on a per-user basis.
Using a credit card for gambling usually counts as a cash advance, and incurs a zero-day interest free period, sometimes with a higher interest rate. Cash advances to not incur rewards points. Without any of the benefits of a credit card, banks are profiting off gamblers too, under the guise of deterring the behaviour.
Rather than optional blocks or deterrents, I propose to completely ban using credit cards to fund an online gambling account. This should not impact casual gamblers, but will support problem gamblers.
Won’t problem gamblers go across the border anyway?
Maybe – even probably in some cases – but that is not a good reason to let the problem fester in the ACT. We should be leading the nation, not using the rest of the country as our benchmark.
Once our scheme is up and running and we have seen some results, I will lobby the NSW and other state governments to implement a similar system. I will also call on our ACT Assembly to lobby the federal government to adopt a nation-wide scheme to address gambling harm.
- Introduce a mandatory pre-commitment scheme for Electronic Gaming Machines in the ACT.
- Ban the use of credit cards to fund online gambling accounts.
- Lobby NSW and other state governments to follow suit, to further protect ACT residents.