It’s expected the federal government will introduce the National Gambling Reform Bill 2012 in parliament next week after securing the support of independent member for Denison Andrew Wilkie.

In a media release  on Tuesday, Mr Wilkie said he was disappointed with the watered down version but acknowledged it was a step in the right direction.

Reverend Tim Costello, chair of the Australian Churches Gambling Taskforce, of which the Australian Christian Lobby is a member, said (in a media release) that he understood Mr Wilkie’s decision and looked forward to the tabling of the Bill and working with government and future governments on pokie reform.

The Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs the Honourable Jenny Macklin announced (see media release) that the features of the bill would include:

  • All new poker machines manufactured from the end of next year must be capable of supporting pre-commitment;

  • All poker machines must be part of a state linked pre-commitment system by 2016, except eligible small venues which will have longer;

  • All poker machines must have electronic warnings and cost of play displays on poker machines by 2016; and

  • A $250 daily withdrawal limit must be set on ATMs in gaming venues (excluding casinos) by 2013.

In order to secure the support of Mr Wilkie, the government agreed to ensure the legislation contains more details of the ACT trial and require new and retrofitted machines to be able to support mandatory pre-commitment.

However, it’s unsure whether the legislation has the numbers to pass the upper house given that the coalition won’t support the reform and the Australian Greens and independent senator Nick Xenophon are demanding a $1 bet cap.

The Australian Christian Lobby supports the pokie reform as a step in the right direction but is disappointed the government broke it’s deal with the Independent member.

Australians need to be able to trust the promises parties make at elections time or used to secure government.  By reneging on its deal with the member to introduce mandatory pre-committment technology by May, democracy and the compact between politicians and the people is damaged.