For release: Tuesday April 12, 2011
The Australian Christian Lobby said the $20 million advertising campaign by Clubs Australia and the Australian Hotels Association is motivated by self-interest.
Managing Director Jim Wallace said claims by the industry that poker reform will cost jobs and cut community contributions was a scare tactic and its real concern was money.
“Clubs make a big deal about contributing to society but its contributions are significantly less than the tax breaks they are given and are dwarfed by the amount they get in poker machine revenue,” he said. “You only need to consider the mining industry which actually produces something useful, only spent $22 million on opposing Kevin Rudd’s tax, to realise how much money this $20 million investment aims to protect,” he said.
“The industry claims the average punter doesn’t need a license to gamble. But its business model is calculated on people coming back again and again to play the pokies.
“This was highlighted in last year’s Productivity Commission report which it said ‘most policy interest centres on people playing regularly on the 'pokies'. Around 600,000 Australians (4 percent of the adult population) play at least weekly’,” Mr Wallace said.
“The Productivity Commission also found that ‘around 15 percent of these regular players are 'problem gamblers'," and "their share of total spending on machines is estimated to range around 40 percent",” Mr Wallace said.
Mr Wallace also criticised the New South Wales Government for supporting the industry.
“The O’Farrell Government needs to take leadership on the issue of problem gambling. It needs to wean itself off gambling revenue and support social change that will be better for New South Wales,” he said.
Mr Wallace said the ACL supported introducing mandatory pre-commitment technology that would set a limit on the amount of money a person would gamble.