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With the PokieLeaks campaign making media waves and talk of a pokies reform back on the national agenda, this week the ACT Greens Party announced the most ambitious reform plan Australia has seen since the 2012 proposal put forth by the Wilke-Gillard agreement.
The ACT Greens reform plan is to remove 30% of the pokie machines across Canberra, implement mandatory pre-commitment and enforce $1 bet limits.
Calls for the reform were stemmed by the Greens belief that it’s time to take serious steps towards minimising harm in the community caused by gambling addiction and losses. While Australia has one of the highest number of electronic poker machines in the world, the ACT in particular has even more machines than the national average. A recent report released by the ANU revealed that almost half of all gambling revenue across the ACT comes from problem gambling, with a majority of problem gamblers being the young and uneducated.
ACT Greens Minister Shane Rattenbury wrote a passionate piece for the Huffington Post detailing his strong support for the pokies reform. He said, “The Greens believe that putting the community first means not being afraid to stand up to big business or to clubs or casinos. It means not taking donations from clubs that rely on pokies. Putting the community first means demanding that clubs and casinos take harm minimisation seriously if they want to be a part of our community. A business model that relies on revenue from problem gambling is a broken business model.”
Last week The Canberra Times reported that Clubs ACT has bankrolled a new political party upwards of $100,000 to protect their pokies empire, with a majority of those funds to go into a TV advertising campaign ahead of election day.
Rattenbury has no doubt that in the coming days clubs around the ACT will ramp up attacks against the Greens in a bid to protect the huge profits they make from the pokies, but the Greens are standing strong.
Rattenbury said, “No amount of post-crisis counselling is going to be as effective as reducing the amount of cash that someone can dump into a machine every hour. And, while crucial, no helplines or support services are going to be as effective as reducing the prevalence of addictive poker machines in our communities. That’s why genuine reform to reduce problem gambling requires us to tackle it at its source – poker machines.”
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