By Clyde Mooney
A leaked Treasury document prepared for Assistant Treasurer, Bill Shorten, detailing a pre-commitment trial in South Australia called PlaySmart, spoke of positive outcomes in terms of money management and informed decision making among problem gamblers.
The executive minute document stated that ‘pre-commitment can be effective in reducing the amount problem gamblers spend, without adversely impacting on recreational gamblers’.
The Clubs lobby agree with the potential of the system, but poignantly bring to attention the fact that PlaySmart was a voluntary pre-commitment scheme, which they already endorse.
The trial experienced a poker machine net turnover decrease of 56 percent while recreational gambling was reduced by just five percent.
While this corresponds with predictions made about the impact of the proposed legislative reform on venues, the voluntary nature of the trial renders its direct comparison to mandatory pre-commitment asinine.
Treasury concluded the opposite, responding in February to a question on topic ‘the results of voluntary pre-commitment would be amplified if it were made mandatory’.
Independent MP Andrew Wilkie has supported the results as evidence of the validity of his reforms while dismissing the significance of its findings under a voluntary model.
“The trial was always to be of the technical solutions to implement mandatory pre-commitment – the trial was not about whether mandatory pre-commitment works because there’s an abundance of evidence in support of it,” says Wilkie.
The evidence apparently relates to the scheme undertaken in Norway, which has been ridiculed by the industry as having completely failed to reduce the rate of problem gambling after an increase from 1.3 percent of the population to 2.3 percent.