Mapping where pokies hurt
A NEW model to predict where poker machines would cause the most harm is being co-developed by a local researcher and should be available for widespread application next year.
Southern Cross University researcher Dr Martin Young, who presented his early results at a forum in Lismore yesterday, said the model could map the likely incidence of harm for any given location.
"Early results show we are predicting the catchments, or trade areas, of poker machine venues extremely accurately; far more accurately than we were anticipating," he said.
"And we've accurately predicted the harm flowing from these locations."
Dr Young, from SCU's Centre for Gambling Education and Research, is working in conjunction with Dr Bruce Doran from the Australian National University and said the model would enable policy makers to better regulate the industry.
"We would like this modelling to be used as a social impact assessment tool as well as a regulatory tool to enable better decisions to be made about where poker machines get licensed, particularly in relation to vulnerable communities," he said.
"In short, where you wouldn't put poker machines or where you could distribute them in a way that minimises harm."
With an estimated 20% of the world's poker machines in Australia, and half of those in NSW alone, we have the dubious honour of being the poker machine capital of the world.
Dr Young hopes his work will help ease the fallout on vulnerable people who "were currently bearing both the cost and the risk associated with gambling industry".
"Electronic gaming machines are so profitable because they produce a gambling product that is almost labour-free.
"From a spatial perspective they can be distributed extremely easily and thus possess the ability to exploit untapped markets through the existing pub and club infrastructure," Dr Young said.