“Gambling harm doesn’t just affect the person sitting in the pokie lounge,” said Dr Emma Campbell, CEO of ACT Council of Social Services (ACTCOSS). “The ripple effect touches their family, their social circle and their colleagues.”
The single most effective predictor of problem gambling, Dr Campbell stated, was the amount of time spent playing a poker machine. The ACT had one pokie for every 100 adults; most of these were in clubs.
On average, every year, Canberrans lost $507 each on the pokies. A lack of regulation on bet limits, the accessibility of cash in gambling venues, and no pre-commitment on the amount that could be gambled made the ACT’s poker machines particularly dangerous.
The council compriserepresentatives from the clubs sector (ClubsACT, Canberra Community Clubs, Canberra Bowling Club, Canberra Irish Club, Canberra Labor Club); organisations working to reduce gambling harm (the Canberra Gambling Reform Alliance, the Financial Counselling Service and Consumer Law Centre of the ACT, the Hope Project, the Youth Coalition of the ACT); the ACT Gambling and Racing Commission; and .
“Based on their diverse perspectives and experience, Council members will provide valuable insight into how we can support our local clubs while protecting vulnerable community members from gambling harm,” Mr Rattenbury said.
ClubsACT CEO Craig Shannon said the Council would be a solid foundation to address issues affecting the industry, and to ensure clubs continued to serve and benefit Canberra.
Dr Campbell said ACTCOSS would like the government to implement all recommendations of the Canberra Gambling Reform Alliance including a $1 bet limit and mandatory pre-commitment, but considered this a strong and appreciated start.
The Council will meet regularly, beginning tomorrow (Wednesday 26 May).
The ACT Gambling Support Service provides free professional counselling to people experiencing gambling harm and to their family members. Call 1800 858 858 (24 hours a day). Financial Counselling is also available Monday to Friday 9.30am-4.30pm on 1800 007 007.
ACTCOSS’s Stories of Chance describes the costs of gambling to the community, and the resilience of those who recover.