The Victorian government has gone back on an election promise to introduce voluntary pre-commitment on poker machines.

This follows a decision last week by Prime Minister Julia Gillard to break her agreement with Independent MP Andrew Wilkie. The Federal Government was to legislate to introduce mandatory pre-commitment by May this year, but this has now been delayed.

Victoria was to introduce pre-commitment technology within poker machine venues by 2013. The technology was then to be linked state-wide by 2016, meaning that anyone reaching their limit at one venue would be unable to bet at another.

The government claims it is not possible to implement the technology within venues by 2013, although it says it is still committed to meeting the 2016 deadline.

Tim Costello of the National Churches Gambling Taskforce was said to be “shattered” by Prime Minister Gillard’s broken agreement last week, and “furious” at this decision by the Baillieu government.

In an interview on the ACL’s Political Spot, Mr Costello said problem gambling is causing bankruptcy, increasing crime, and breaking up marriages. He called for maximum bets of $1 on poker machines. This still allows for losses of up to $120 an hour but is a vast improvement on the current machines, which allow losses of thousands of dollars every hour.

Read about the Victorian Government’s decision here, and Mr Costello’s response here.

You can also listen to Mr Costello’s Political Spot interview here.