$1 Poker Machine Bets

Question

Given the evidence that poker machines harm our community, causing poverty and contributing to family violence, will your party implement the recommendation of the Productivity Commission and mandate $1 bets in the ACT?

Answer
Party Answer
ACT Greens The ACT Greens are committed to reducing gambling harm in our community. The ANU Centre for Gambling Research tells us that more than 4000 Canberrans are currently gambling unsafely; and the Productivity Commission tells us that up to 80% of gambling harm is due to electronic poker machines. It is time to take gambling harm seriously, it is time for machine modifications. The ACT Greens policy is to introduce a range of harm minimisation measures including $1 maximum bets and mandatory pre-commitment. These are the most effective ways to target problem gambling harm without unduly impacting on recreational gamblers. 
ACT Labor

Labor has long recognised and worked with the community to minimise harm from gambling. We are working constructively with clubs to transition their operations away from a reliance on gaming, so that they can be viable long-term and reduce the number of gaming machines they operate. The Labor Government has a clear and successful policy framework in place to reduce the number of poker machines operating in the ACT, and will continue this approach if re-elected. We also have put in place harm minimisation strategies and will continue to examine if current approaches are effective.

Canberra Liberals

Canberra has long fostered the community gaming model, where gaming machines are owned by community organisations rather than individuals or companies, and the proceeds of gaming are returned to the community. Community clubs give back to the community through employment and support for community sporting and service organisations.

The Canberra Liberals are committed to the community gaming model, and providing a climate where community clubs can diversify so that they are less reliant on the now diminishing income from gaming machines. We are strongly opposed to having gaming machines in private-sector establishments such as the Casino.

In October 2015 the Public Accounts Committee of the Legislative Assembly issued a report entitled Inquiry into Elements Impacting on the Future of the ACT Clubs Sector, which included a number of recommendations addressing the issue of problem gambling. The Canberra Liberals have committed to working with the community clubs to implement the recommendations in the report.

The Public Accounts Committee in its deliberations considered the implementation of mandated $1 bets in the ACT but did not make specific recommendations on the subject. We are aware of the dangers of problem gambling, and would be interested in looking at strategies to reduce the extent of this problem. $1 bets is one such strategy, but we want to be sure we’re supporting strategies which have the best prospect of success.

Liberal Democrats

The ACT Liberal Democrats acknowledge the considerable harm that problem gambling imposes on individuals, their families, and the broader community.

At its core, however, gambling is a personal choice. We are neither pro- nor anti- gambling. The data across jurisdictions demonstrates that the vast majority of those who choose to gamble do so within their own pre-chosen limits. These people ought not to have their freedoms restricted on account of a small percentage of the community that develops gambling problems.

We believe that those proposing $1 limits on bets should also consider the interchangeability of gaming services that exists due to the increasing prominence of online gaming. While the $1 limit may cause a reduction in aggregate gaming rates in the short term, we consider it highly likely that many problem gamblers will move away from the usual environment of problem gambling—that is, licensed venues—to online forms with little social connection with other people who might be in a position to intervene or help the gambler make themselves aware of their problem.

For this reason, we do not support $1 mandatory bets.

The ACT Liberal Democrats do support measures to assist people at risk from problem gambling. We support voluntary exclusion and will seek to increase penalties on licensees that fail to remove persons that have elected to exclude themselves. We also support the funding of treatment programs for problem gamblers and those affected by the gambling of others. We also would like to strengthen requirements that ensure that minors are not exposed to gambling, specifically poker machines.

Your community should also be aware of the significant appreciation we have for the civil society sector, particularly churches and religious orders, in helping the less fortunate. We strongly believe in the role of civil society. We especially value religious or lay people—Christian or from other faiths—dedicate themselves to a vocation of helping others in need. Unlike other political parties, we are not suspicious of the religious community. People ought to be able to follow their calling—whether a secular one or one from God—freely and their contribution to society ought to be valued on the basis of their works, rather than their associations.

Members of your community will find a strong ally in the Liberal Democrats.

Sustainable Australia

Yes, this is a longstanding policy of Sustainable Australia outlined in both our ACT and federal policy platforms:

Federal: http://www.votesustainable.org.au/gambling/

ACT: http://www.votesustainable.org.au/act