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.