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As Australians are now in a battle to fight the pokies out of every club or pub, the ground realities are something different. In a recent new research it showed that Australia’s Capital city Canberra is lagging behind in gambling laws. Though Canberrians are considered as one of the most progressive communities in Australia but in the social aspect it has lots of grey area specially when it comes to implementing of gambling laws.
Canberra is comparatively weak on gambling legislation. While pokies or electronic gaming machines are legal, but they can cause significant harm and not much is done to make them less harmful.
In a research that was commissioned by the Canberra Gambling Reform Alliance (CGRA) which is a local group of organisations and community advocates who are concerned about gambling laws in the Australian capital, aim to bring a community voice into a discussion that is generally dominated by the gambling industry. In their research they found that strong consumer protections are being implemented in other parts of Australia and in New Zealand but not much is being done in Canberra. The analysis found that across a range of parameters, it had some of the weakest rules in Australia.
Here is comparison of the rules of poker machines across a range of jurisdictions
Canberra gambling laws should limit the amount of money lost as a result of poker machine gambling. Only Canberra and NSW still allow $10 bet limits. This level of intensity means that people can lose over $1000 an hour. Most other states have dropped the limit to $5, and New Zealand has a limit of $2.50. The Australian Productivity Commission Inquiry into the issue in 2010 suggested bet limits of $2 or under would make the most difference.
Another way to make poker machines less harmful is by making small tweaks to software settings. Unlike many other jurisdictions, Canberra still allows losses that are disguised as wins. This deceptive feature tricks your brain into thinking that you have won, even though you have lost money on that spin. In Canberra, you also have no limit on how much cash can be loaded into a machine in one go.
The research also found Canberra has the second highest concentration of pokies per head of population in Australia. Most people would also be shocked to discover around one in eight people here has negatively impacted by gambling harm either directly or indirectly.
Now the Canberra Government has been setting its intention to strengthen gambling laws. The ACT Gambling and Racing Commission has articulated support for a public health approach to gambling harm.
This analysis report was prepared by Dr Charles Livingston who is one of Australia’s foremost gambling researchers, from Monash University’s Gambling & Social Determinants Unit of the School of Public Health. The report was funded by CGRA members Anglicare NSW South and ACT, the ACT Council of Social Service and Belconnen Community Services.
Remember if you or your friend or any one known is suffering from pokies addiction then there are Gambling Counselling and Support Service and can be contacted on toll free number 1800 858 858.
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