Former AFL star and problem gambler David Schwarz has broken his silence on the Federal Government’s proposed mandatory pre-commitment laws for pubs and clubs, saying it won’t help problem gamblers or even reduce Victoria’s problem gambling rate.
Schwarz made the remarks in a video to be screened at a rally at the Buckleys Entertainment Centre in Geelong this evening against mandatory pre-commitment.
David Schwarz, who lost more than $4 million over a 15 year gambling addiction, has used the video to deliver a personal plea to Julia Gillard to dump her agreement with Independent MP Andrew Wilkie and instead lend support to counseling, education and intervention.
In the video, Schwarz says his addiction was spread across numerous forms of gambling including casino tables, poker machines, greyhounds, harness racing and horse racing. He predicts that gamblers will bypass mandatory pre-commitment by setting artificially high limits.
“I’ve given mandatory pre-commitment a lot of thought. And try as I might, I just can’t see it working. Andrew Wilkie is underestimating the intelligence of the problem gambler if he thinks hitting a limit on a pre-commitment card will stop them from betting.
“First the problem gambler will set a limit higher than they intend to bet to. Soon they’ll borrow someone else’s card when they hit their limit. Before long the problem gambler will stop returning those borrowed cards. Eventually they’ll realise that the easiest way to bypass mandatory pre-commitment is simply to set no limit.
“I’ve heard Andrew Wilkie and Tim Costello say that mandatory pre-commitment will work because problem gamblers have moments of clarity where we can think rationally. They say that in these moments of clarity people like me can set realistic bet limits using a pre-commitment card.
“Well, I’m truly sorry to say that problem gamblers simply don’t think rationally. When I was gambling, I spent more hours each day than most people would spend working and sleeping, thinking about how to get on the punt.
“I’d wake in the morning, and the first thought I’d have was about punting. Quite often, my hands would be shaking, literally shaking, because I hadn’t had a punt for maybe 8 hours. The only thing I wanted to do from the moment I opened my eyes, was get to my front door, so I could get my newspaper and go straight to the racing section so I could plan my day out. There was no moment of clarity here…just a gambling addict.
“Unfortunately, this is what Andrew Wilkie and our Prime Minister don’t understand. To be fair, they can’t understand because neither of them have walked in the shoes of a gambling addict like me.
“I’m sure they have the best of intentions, but take it from someone who has lived the life of a problem gambling for 15 years. Problem gambling is an incredibly complex, psychological condition that cannot be cured with a card and federal legislation. It just can’t.”
Click here to download the audio of David Schwarz speaking about mandatory pre-commitment:
David Schwarz’s video message can be viewed at: www.youtube.com/user/clubsnsw
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