The Greens will today urge the other parties to vote in favour of reducing Canberra’s poker machine bet limits and to strengthen protections against gaming harm in the COVID pandemic.
A Greens motion will go before the ACT Legislative Assembly today calling for a post-COVID return to pokies to be made safer for people experiencing gambling harm, by reducing Canberra’s poker machine bet limits to $5 per spin, and to introduce a $100 load limit when people commence betting.
The ACT Greens have received assurances from gambling harm experts that it is technically feasible to adjust these machines in a short time frame. The Greens propose that venues be given up to 18 months to implement the changes.
Comments attributable to ACT Greens leader Shane Rattenbury:
“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.
“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.
“These machines are designed for addiction. If we act now, we can put extensive measures in place to offset the deliberate design features of poker machines that cause real harm to individuals, families and the community.
"We want to see hospitality workers back at work. That said, we also need to make sure we aren't creating even more problems for our community. With more individuals and households facing financial hardship due to the economic impacts of COVID-19, we have an obligation to protect vulnerable people.”
Comments attributable to Rebecca Vassarotti, ACT Greens Gambling Reform Spokesperson:
“Here in the ACT, people can lose more than $1000 an hour playing the pokies. Every other jurisdiction except for NSW has moved to limit bet limits to $5 per spin,” ACT Greens candidate and community advocate, Rebecca Vassarotti said today.
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.”