Pubs and small clubs will need more time to adjust to gambling reforms

Poker Machines
Poker Machines

The Labor Government and the Greens managed a deal to pass the long-awaited pre-commitment legislation. For the small pubs and clubs more time will be needed to adjust to the new gambling reforms. While independent MP Andrew Wilkie and Senator Nick Xenophon have promised for pre-commitment limits on gamblers, it was not until this Labor-Greens deal that similar laws could be passed. For the above, the Communities Minister Jenny Macklin said that the new legislation would see mandatory pre-commitment rolled out in the Australian Capital Territory initially and for the rest of the territories should be rolled out by 2016. She also said: “We understand, of course, that small pubs and clubs, many of them in regional areas, just aren’t the same as the big gaming venues in the city. So we have provided for longer implementation timelines for small venues.” Ms Macklin said that pubs and clubs with 11 to 20 machines would have four years more, until 2020, to deliver the pre-commitment technology, and for the clubs with 10 or less , they can keep their machines until the time they have to replace them. The Productivity Commission have estimated that the cost of gambling for the whole country is at least $4.7 billion each year, and the average amount of money for every gambler is approximately $21,000 per year. Ms Macklin said: “People with gambling problems are six times more likely than non-gamblers to get divorced – and they are four times more likely to suffer from alcohol abuse”. Mr Wilkie largely welcomes the new laws although he said that he was not entirely happy about the changes. New laws will set minimum requirements for harm minimization and also they will allow state and territory governments to impose extra stronger measures. The new legislation introduces a $250-a-day automatic teller machine withdrawal limit for gaming machine premises. The only exception to these new rules will be for casinos and some premises in smaller communities.