Renewed calls by the Greens to limit the harmful impact of poker machines on the Canberra community have been welcomed by the Australian Christian Lobby.

ACL Managing Director Lyle Shelton said the onus was on the ACT Government to ensure community harm was considered before it approves any additional poker machines for the Canberra Casino.

“It is not too much to ask for the Government to implement recommendations that were outlined in the Productivity Commission’s 2010 report into problem gambling which recommended $1 bets on poker machines,” Mr Shelton said.

“The gambling trade has given the impression that it is concerned with the harm that their poker machines inflict on the community. The ACL looks forward to the gambling industry now demonstrating their concern by taking real action to minimise this harm by supporting $1 bets.

“ACL supports the Greens’ call for any poker machines at the Canberra Casino to be limited to a $1 bet limit per spin. This alone will cap potential losses for punters to about one-tenth what they currently are, dramatically reducing the potential for community harm.”

According to the Productivity Commission report, the number of problem gamblers in Australia is approximately 115,000 in addition to the 280,000 who are categorised as at moderate risk. Their share of total spending on machines is estimated to be around 40 per cent, although they make up 15 per cent of regular players.

“The Government should also ensure that mandatory pre-commitments are imposed and enforced at the casino as part of their agreement to allow for more poker machines,” Mr Shelton said.

“As part of a community-wide strategy to reduce poker machine harm and addiction, the same responsibilities should be required of all ACT clubs which operate poker machines.

“As we head into the ACT elections, the ACL calls on the Labor and Liberal parties to draw a line in the sand, to show leadership and refuse any donations that come from the gambling industry.

“Gambling money has too much influence on ACT politics and problem gamblers and their families suffer as a result.”

Mr Shelton said the ACL had profound disagreements with the Greens on other areas of social policy, particularly on human rights for the unborn and the right of children to wherever possible be allowed to be loved and nurtured by their mother and father.

However, on poker machine reform, “we are on a unity ticket,” Mr Shelton said.

ENDS

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