The Federal Government’s support for mandatory pre-commitment on club and pub poker machines has been dealt a massive blow with revelations that the problem gambling rate could rise by as much as 60% if introduced in Australia.
A study of 3,000 people in Norway, which is the only country to have mandatory pre-commitment on all poker machines, found that the current rate of problem gambling has increased from 1.3% in 2007 to the current 2.1% following the introduction of mandatory pre-commitment 2 years ago.
The problem gambling rate in Australia is 0.7%.
A 60% increase in the rate of problem gambling in Australia on the back of mandatory pre-commitment would mean 71,000 new problem gamblers.
The Norwegian study found that problem gamblers are increasingly gambling online and that they are 4 times more likely to gamble online than social gamblers. Government records also show that calls to counselling services relating to online casino games have increased by 838% over the past year.
Clubs Australia President Peter Newell said that the Norwegian experience makes a mockery of claims by Andrew Wilkie that mandatory pre-commitment will result in lower rates of problem gambling in the community.
“Not only has mandatory pre-commitment failed to reduce problem gambling in Norway, but since its introduction the number of problem gamblers has significantly increased.
“This study confirms what leading gambling researcher Professor Alex Blaszczynski personally told Andrew Wilkie earlier this year. That is, you don’t help a problem gambler by giving them a gambling card. You help them by providing education, counselling and support.
“Senator Xenophon has stated that “Norway has a system of pre-commitment which has made a real difference in problem gambling”
“The only difference mandatory pre-commitment has made in Norway has been to increase the number of problem gamblers from 48,000 to 81,000 in a country of less than 5 million people.
“Norway proves mandatory pre-commitment delivers the worst of both worlds. It fails to reduce the number of problem gamblers while at the same time driving social gamblers online and financially crippling clubs.
“Norwegian media has reported numerous times that problem gamblers are using multiple cards to get around their bet limits.
One such example is:
“I have five cards, registered as five different people. Many of those who play on these machines, do it the same way. Some play with the cards that are registered on their children.”
Jeremy Bath | Media Relations Manager | ClubsNSW / ClubsAustralia
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