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Thursday, April 15, 2021

Poker machine reform motion binned

The ACT Greens have been unsuccessful in their move for pokies reform, with both the Canberra Liberals and ACT Labor voting against the bet limit reduction and machine load limit today, 23 July.

The motion went to vote before the ACT Legislative Assembly this afternoon, calling for a maximum bet limit of $5 per spin and a $100 load limit before betting commences.

ACT Greens leader Shane Rattenbury first put the case forward in early June, after feedback from ACT residents during COVID-19 lockdown.

“Reports indicate the shutdown period has been a real relief for people with a gambling problem. The inability to access poker machines has given them a real break,” he said.

“It’s time to stop and listen to the evidence. We have an opportunity to do that while people are still coming out of the respite they have been given during the COVID-19 shutdown, before they are drawn back into the cycle of gambling harm.”

The motion was overturned by 23 votes to two.

Mr Rattenbury said despite the reduction in poker machine numbers from 4,938 to 3,388 in the ACT as part of the 2016 election promise, there was little other support shown for the issue.

“Unfortunately, we don’t see support for these measures,” he said.

“These are measures that have been adopted in lots of other jurisdictions right across Australia but unfortunately here in the ACT we still can’t get commitment to these sort of bet limits.”

ACT Greens Gambling Reform spokesperson Rebecca Vassarotti said the ACT needed to join other states and territories in Australia in passing this legislation.

“Here in the ACT, people can lose more than $1,000 an hour playing the pokies. Every other jurisdiction except for NSW has moved to limit bet limits to $5 per spin,” she said.  

“Bet limits were recommended by the Productivity Commission a decade ago. We have been assured by gaming harm reduction advocates that $5 bet limits can be implemented without technical challenges, and we’ve seen it occur interstate.

“There’s no time to delay. The Government should act now to secure a safer environment for people who have experienced gambling harm, and support them to avoid a return to previous loss levels – especially​ at a time when so many people have lost their jobs or are under more financial stress due to COVID.” 

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