High stakes in gambling reform

GamblingNo doubt inspired by the success of the mining sector in its fight against the Government’s Resource Super Profits Tax , ClubsAustralia recently tried to flex its muscles by launching a $20 million campaign against the Government’s proposed gambling reforms instigated by Independent MP Andrew Wilkie . The blokey ‘It’s un-Australian’ ad warned punters that under the reforms they would need a licence to gamble, that the Government would track what was won and lost and that ordinary Australians would be left feeling like they were “some sort of criminal”. The campaign website, which includes a petition to the Government, goes on to say “But you didn’t vote for it and you don’t have to put up with it”. Yet, a recent survey by The Australia Institute, commissioned by UnitingCare Wesley Adelaide, found overwhelming support for the proposed pokies reforms which would require gamblers to set a spending limit before playing.

81 per cent of Australians surveyed agreed that pokie players should have the opportunity to set limits for their gambling spending, with 67 per cent believing that gambling pre-commitment should be mandatory. Liberal, Labor and Green voters all had similar rates of support. Support for mandatory pre-commitment was highest amongst low income earners.

One in two people surveyed also indicated that they felt clubs and hotels which earn money from poker machines have too much influence over governments. While the Government has so far stood its ground against the campaign, it’s the influence clubs are able to exert over the other Independents that will count. With Andrew Wilkie threatening to withdraw his support for the Government if the gambling pre-commitment legislation is not passed, it has become a very high stakes game indeed.

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