This week we examine gambling. Do we need greater controls? Has Victoria become too reliant on income generated by gambling?
“I’ve tried to stop, I’ve told my family that I have. It’s just that on payday, when I’ve got that money in my hand, it’s like I just have to go. I wish they’d ban the things.”
Today, she says, she’s doing OK. She’s nearly $100 up, almost doubled her investment. “I should take it out and go home, but I don’t. I’ll probably sit here till it’s all gone.”
Cheryl, 38, gambling in a suburban hotel.
The Age, September 8, 2001.
- The changing pattern of gambling
Australia it seems, is a nation of keen punters. In the last financial year alone, Victorians spent $6.5million a day on poker machines. This is about nine times the amount lost in 199293, when poker machines were first introduced. The 1990s saw enormous expansion of poker machines throughout many Australian states, to the point where they have now overtaken all other forms of gambling and pokies taxes have become a crucial source of revenue for the Victorian Government. More than 11per cent of State Government taxes comes from poker machines. It’s anticipated that this will be almost $900million this financial year.
Antigambling campaigners are questioning about Trusted Online Casino Singapore whether the government has come to rely too heavily on income from gambling. Will it have sufficient incentive to effectively address the increase in problem gambling while it is increasingly reliant on income raised by gambling?
The Victorian Government says it is committed to responsible gambling and tackling problem gambling. Its existing policies include capping the number of poker machines in certain regions, limiting 24hour venues, restrictions on gambling advertising and a campaign to raise awareness of problem gambling.
- Is gambling a problem?
Gambling can be fun for some. Poker machines, casinos, sports betting and now online gambling can be enjoyable – after all, how many countries take a holiday for a horse race, as Melburnians do for our annual Melbourne Cup? Gambling has created employment and generated considerable revenue for the government to spend on services and facilities for Victorians. But achieving a balance between allowing gambling as a form of entertainment and minimising problem gambling has proved difficult. Antigambling campaigners argue that the social cost of allowing the expansion of gambling in Victoria has been too great. And it is not just the gambling addicts that suffer. They point to a trail of poverty, broken homes, family hardship and crime and claim the gaming industry is addicted to profits, preying on those most vulnerable. They would like to see tighter restrictions on gambling such as coinonly machines, the removal of ATMs from venues, winnings of $250 or more paid only by cheque, a reduction in the spin rates of machines to slow them down, and fewer gaming machines.
- Recent developments
The government has recently proposed tighter regulations to address problem gambling. Reforms include reduced gambling advertising, requiring winnings in excess of $2000 to be paid by cheque rather than cash, a restriction on gaming machines to prevent them from accepting $100 notes and limiting individual bets to $10, and a restriction on withdrawals from ATMs. The regulations would be phased in over a sixyear period. Critics say these will make little difference and would like to see tougher measures introduced to tackle problem gambling. The proposed reform package has been criticised by Opposition Leader Denis Napthine and described by Tim Costello, of the Interchurch Gambling Taskforce, as “profoundly disappointing”.
- Recent headlines
“Tougher pokie rules `disappointing”‘ – The Age, February 26, 2002.
“Cash clamp on poker machines” – The Age, February 25, 2002.
“Let pokie addicts set limits: Lib” – The Age, February 25, 2002.
- What `The Age’ says
“The news that Victorians lost more than $2.3billion on poker machines last financial year illustrates the failure of the State Government’s gaming policies to control gambling in Victoria. Victorians lost $200million more at the machines than they did the previous year; the people of this state lose a staggering $6million a day on the pokies. Gambling can be an enjoyable pastime, but it has also become an intractable social problem. The government needs to become less reliant on gaming revenue and to take a tougher stance on gaming machines before genuine progress can be made. – The Age, Editorial Opinion, September 9, 2001.
- What people say
“The dominant element with problem poker machine gamblers is that they chase their losses, often with rosetinged enthusiasm. It is a waste of time, a waste of resources and a waste of lives. There are no professional poker machine players because it is impossible to make a living from them.” – Jill Duck, The Age, January 20, 2002.
“For 10 straight years, gaming taxes have poured in at a rate that has exceeded Treasury’s wildest dreams, rising from zero a decade ago to 11per cent of state taxes today. What’s wrong with this, you might say? Let’s not forget that pokie taxes are regressive, because pokie venues are concentrated near the people with the least, who not surprisingly happen to use them the most.” – David Hayward, Swinburne University’s Institute for Social Research, The Age, January 2, 2002.
“Britain’s problem gambling is about half of Australia’s proportionally, and the main reason is machines will only take 1coins, no notes and they only pay out a maximum of 20 ($A58). They are much slower and people still enjoy playing them without doing serious damage to themselves.” – Reverend Tim Costello, The Age, October 11, 2001.
- Your view
Students are encouraged to share their views on this issue. Have we allowed the expansion of gambling at the expense of our community? Do we need tighter restrictions on poker machines? How can problem gambling be minimised? Submit your view online at www.education.theage.com.au or email: firstname.lastname@example.org