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Minister Addresses World-First Conference

Hon Phillida Bunkle
Minister of Consumer Affairs

Media release
14 April 2000

Minister Addresses World-First Conference

Consumer Affairs Minister Phillida Bunkle today told an international gambling impact conference she wants pokie machines to display the odds of winning.

Speaking to the First International Gambling Impact Conference in Adelaide, this morning, the Minister highlighted six factors she says should be part of any important strategy to deal with problem gambling.

"By this I mean, ensuring the player has all the necessary information to make an informed choice," she said. Better consumer protection could be provided through:
 Meaningful price information
 Statement of expenditure
 Modifying game features
 Consumer warnings
 Advertising and promotion
 A complaints process

"One key issue of consumer protection in gaming is the need to communicate the price of gambling. This could be in the form of displaying the mathematical odds of winning and losing on each machine."

The Minister is investigating the merits of using an Information Standard under section 27 of the Fair Trading Act to communicate such information.

Ms Bunkle said she had concerns that punters often had no idea how much they were spending on pokie machines.

"I see real consumer benefits in using new technology that would enable machines to produce accounts of a punter's spending patterns."

New Zealand has nearly 15,000 pokie machines. Ms Bunkle, also Minister of Customs, is alarmed at the growing number of machines in New Zealand.

"The value of gaming machines imported into New Zealand has increased from $16 million in 1997 to almost $20 million in 1998 and last year, they were worth a staggering $40 million.

"Most of these machines are from Australia. This is hard evidence of the growth of harmful gaming machines being imported into New Zealand."

Ms Bunkle urged a greater partnership between New Zealand and its neighbour in tackling the growing gambling problem.

"Off shore interests may regard New Zealand as a final-resting place for their old machines. As Australia tackles this issue New Zealand must make sure it does not become a dumping ground for you pokies. And it is with this in mind that I hope cooperation between Australian and New Zealand governments can be achieved on the gaming issue."

The three-day conference is scrutinising how the massive expansion of gambling has impacted on communities in Australia and overseas, and seeks effective solutions to reduce harm caused by gambling.


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