By Clyde Mooney

In a diplomatic move intended to placate the boisterous Clubs movement, the Australian Green Party has suggested a remedial poker machine policy that has been immediately rejected by the industry.

Featuring elements of Wilkie’s solution, such as $1 betting limits, the policy sheds the move to mandatory pre-commitment, suggesting that the majority of recreational gamblers will not notice the difference.

Far from an acceptable solution to the gaming industry, criticism of the policy has centred on the fact that the solution would work out virtually as expensive for venues, while not guaranteeing any solution to problem gamblers, most of whom are already betting less than a dollar per spin.

“The problem gambling rate in the UK, which has low intensity machines, is higher than any Australian jurisdiction. Unlike Australia, where problem gambling rates are falling year on year, problem gambling in the UK is on the rise,” says Anthony Ball, executive director of Clubs Australia.

According to the Gaming Technologies Association (GTA), which represents the suppliers of gaming machines, the Greens’ ‘cheap alternative’ is fatally flawed.

“Changing a machine to a $1 bet limit requires a game change, which as everybody in the industry knows will cost $5,000 per machine and more than that for machines older than three years” said GTA CEO, Ross Ferrar.

“The Greens are also wrong in describing existing Australian gaming machines are fast or ‘intense’. Almost everywhere else in the world, the reel spin can be ‘fast forwarded’ to tenths of a second or even less. And in many cases, the maximum bet is unlimited or much larger than in Australia.”

The 2010 Productivity Commission addressed this scenario in its report:

  • Immediately implementing a much lower maximum bet limit for all existing gaming machines would not be feasible for regulators and gaming machine manufacturers, and not cost effective for venues,
  • Many existing EGMs would need to be replaced and others retrofitted with new software/hardware. Where the depreciated value of machines was low, the need to bring forward their replacement would not represent a significant cost. However, the early retirement of newer machines would be expensive.

Criticism of the policy announced by Victorian Greens Senator Richard Di Natale included the fact that the party never consulted with the relevant manufacturers and bodies, which has left the industry speculating somewhat on the Greens’ position in the upcoming vote whether or not to pass the controversial legislation by the Tasmanian independent.


The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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