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Gambling Gain Should Be Approached With Caution

Gambling Gain Should Be Approached With Caution

A small 2.5% drop in annual gambling losses has been described as a positive sign, but still needs to be treated with “considerable caution” according to a national gambling issues lobby group.

GamblingWatch co-ordinator Dave Macpherson welcomed the reduction in pokie machine losses in bars and clubs – down from $1,027 million to $906 million, but pointed to “several factors in this reduction that need to be taken on board before we claim we’ve got this problem licked.”

• The $906 million lost still represents a more than 50% increase on the pokie bar losses in 2001, the year the Government first announced new laws to curb unrestricted gambling growth;

• Anti-smoking legislation during the recent period has undoubtedly helped reduce the incidence of gambling in bars, but it is too soon to tell whether this is a temporary or permanent effect, and overseas experience tells us that there is a ‘rebound’ effect;

• Other forms of gambling have all increased and could represent future problem areas – in particular an 18% increase in losses to the Lotteries Commission, a Government agency that is aggressively trying to increase its market share, and a continuing steady increase in Casino losses, with the country’s six casinos all targeting local residents in the areas they operate.

Mr Macpherson said “the Department of Internal Affairs, with their raft of responsible new regulations introduced over the last two years, deserve praise for the way they have taken on the pokie industry and forced it to act more responsibly.”

“However that Department, and its Government masters, must not rest on their laurels as the overall gambling industry is powerful, well-funded and always looking for ways to increase its profitability, usually at the expense of problem gamblers and others who can least afford the losses.”

“Community disquiet at the unrestricted growth of gambling a few years ago forced the Government to bring in more responsible gambling rules, and will again push the Government if there is any sign of back-down on their part.”


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