For release: Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Australian Christian Lobby welcomes the introduction of gambling reform legislation which will require all poker machines to be fitted with pre-commitment technology by 2016, and will introduce ATM withdrawal limits of $250 from next year.

ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace said the legislation establishes the important precedent of federal intervention in poker machine regulation.

While the legislation will go some way to addressing the issue of problem gambling in Australia, it is only a small step in the right direction Mr Wallace said.

“Pre-commitment technology and ATM withdrawal limits are an important start, but it will only go so far in alleviating the destructive force of poker machine addiction,” he said.

“Problem gamblers will not be required to commit to how much they will lose, and it will not be difficult to get around the ATM withdrawal limits.”

Mr Wallace echoed Independent MP Andrew Wilkie’s statement that the legislation lays the groundwork for further government intervention and reform in this area.

He joined Mr Wilkie as well as the Australian Churches Gambling Taskforce in calling for mandatory pre-commitment and $1 maximum bets.

“There are 95,000 problem poker machine gamblers who lose $5 billion each year on poker machines,” he said.

“$1 maximum bets would limit losses to $120 per hour, but this is still far more than most problem gamblers can afford to lose.”

“Taking this first step is important, but we must continue the reform to address this national tragedy,” Mr Wallace said.