FATHER John Flynn’s report (CL 23/2/14) portrays a depressing picture; with particular emphasis being given to the part that poker machines play in the overall problems associated with gambling.
He quotes from an international report that Australia ranks highest in the world for gambling, and losses, per person.
Despite the efforts of some independent politicians, such as Nick Xenophon and Andrew Wilkie, Queensland and Federal legislators seem intent on our maintaining those doubtful distinctions by actually loosening or removing the few controls that exist.
In December last the Courier Mail reported “that the Queensland Attorney General has quietly increased the denomination of notes that may be fed into poker machines from $20 (a restriction of 12 years duration) to $50 and $100”.
It was mentioned that consideration was also being given to doubling the maximum amount of each bet to $10, and allowing gaming at hotels and clubs before 10am.
The banks have been swift to react and I notice that the teller machine in the wall of a local tavern is now dispensing $50 notes, in lieu of $20 previously.
These moves have been welcomed by Echo Entertainment, the owners of Queensland casinos, who claim that the moves will help to attract more interstate and international visitors to the state; a worthy result perhaps for tourism, but at what cost?
It was also reported that the Federal Government is moving to repeal all poker machine laws which were passed by the previous government in its endeavour to counter losses by problem gamblers. Such action will include abolition of the office of National Gambling Regulator and the scrapping of screen warnings on and withdrawal limits from ATMs located at gaming venues.
These moves have been resisted by various charities, such as Uniting Care, without success, but enthusiastically welcome by the gaming industry.
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