Crackdown on gambling ‘won't work'

THE general manager of the Ballina RSL Club, Bill Coulter, has criticised Federal Labor's plan to crack down on problem gambling, saying the initiatives are untested and unlikely to work.

Mr Coulter said the plan – which is part of Labor's deal with Tasmanian Independent Andrew Wilkie – was not backed up by research.

It involves new pre-commitment technology, such as smart cards, being installed on every poker machine in Australia.

Punters will nominate the maximum amount they can lose in a certain period, and then stop them from playing on once that limit has been reached.

A $250 daily withdrawal limit on ATMs in most pokie venues would also be implemented.

But Mr Coulter – whose club makes more than $9 million a year in pokie revenue – said it was a ‘knee-jerk reaction'.

“Essentially there is just no research to say that these measures will achieve what Mr Wilkie says they are going to achieve,” he said.

“A lot of people use ATMs in clubs to go and buy dinner or to watch a show.”

Mr Coulter said the Ballina RSL had a program in place which allowed patrons to ‘self exclude' themselves from the poker machine section of the club.

“This is something that is privately managed between that individual and staff,” he said. “It has been very successful, and the levels of problem gambling have been reduced.”

Mr Coulter also stressed that their revenue from poker machines went ‘straight back into supporting the community'.

A report by the Productivity Commission in June found pre-commitment systems were one of the most effective ways to target problem gamblers.



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