Responsible gambling trial finds government poker machine reforms fall short

Kate Higgins, From: The Courier-Mail, December 05, 2011

A STUDY into responsible gambling measures similar to those being considered by the Federal Government has found that most people would ignore them.

The eight-week study was conducted by the University of Sydney across five Gold Coast surf lifesaving clubs and trialled five responsible gambling features, including warning signs urging gamblers to stick to an affordable limit on machines.

The study comes as the state LNP pledged to fight the Federal Government’s planned poker machine reforms in the High Court if it wins government in Queensland.

More than 1100 people including Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott yesterday attended a rally at Norths Devils Leagues Club in Nundah against mandatory pre-commitment technology.

The study of almost 300 gamblers revealed that only 22 per cent noticed the signs, and just 4 per cent said the message influenced their behaviour.

However, participants classed as problem or moderate risk gamblers were more likely to say the messages made gambling less enjoyable.

Other measures not being considered by the Government were also put under the microscope, including allowing gamblers to bank winnings, setting an alarm clock, playing in “demo mode” and giving leftover credits to charity.

Only 13 per cent of participants used a bank meter, which allows gamblers to bank their winnings rather than re-gamble them, and only 6 per cent used the alarm clock, warning them of the end of a pre-set gambling time.

At yesterday’s rally, LNP justice spokesman Jarrod Bleijie said if the party won government at next year’s poll it would take the fight against the regulations to the High Court.

Mr Abbott told the crowd they should direct their anger at Prime Minister Julia Gillard, not independent MP Andrew Wilkie, who struck a poker machine deal with the PM to allow her to form government.

“We have a Prime Minister who was prepared to sell out the clubs of Australia to keep herself in The Lodge,” Mr Abbott said.

“That’s the sad truth. I don’t believe sensible Labor people support this measure. I think that this is a measure they have had foisted upon them by a desperate Prime Minister.”