The Federal Government in Australia has plans to limit the amount of money that can be withdrawn from the Automatic Teller Machines at gaming venues and to have warnings placed on the screens. Kay Patterson, Family and Community Services Minister, is reported to have put the suggestion to the Bankers Association of Australia. They predictably stated that more work should be done to prove that a link existed between problem gamblers and easy ATM access.
Four major banks have already removed their ATMs from many pokie venues but independent operators have quickly taken their place.
However, an interchurch gambling task force says that the plan is not enough, that ATMs should be banned altogether from gambling sites. Many with gambling problems agree that it would help to limit their gambling. A recent survey showed that only one in four trouble-free gamblers used the machines, compared to nearly 60% of problem gamblers.
There is at present a debate in the Southern Australian parliament on the Gaming Machine Amendment Bill aimed at reducing the number of poker machines. It is expected to be an all-night sitting.
The State Opposition is still debating the bill in the Lower House and, according to the government leader of the Lower House, has done all it can to delay its progress. He wants to get the bill to a vote quickly.
Others insist that the bill will not be passed to the Upper House until all the debate has been heard. As it stands there would be a 3000 reduction in the number of pokie machines around the state. A sticking point for the Opposition is the Independent Gambling Authority’s recommendation that the machines be capped at 10 per 1000 residents in the regional areas. The Australian Hotels Association wants this clause amended as being unfair to country areas that cater to tourists and nearby towns.
With a liberal MP planning to take in his fold-up bed the ‘sitting’ looks set to be a long one.
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