Australians spend an estimated $13 billion a year on poker machines in licensed pubs and casinos – more than ever before – to the extent that the issue of setting limits has once again been raised by lawmakers.
Gambling Part of Aussie Culture
A recent profile on Australian poker machines in domestic and global media have demonstrated, gambling is as integral a part of Australian culture as shouting your mates a round of beer, throwing some meat on the barbie, playing a game of backyard cricket, or complaining about the politicians in Canberra.
National Public Radio reported recently that public health advocates agree it would be wrong to criticize and penalize all gamblers in the community for a small group of less than 1 in 200 who have a gambling problem. Instead, the experts argue that problem gambling should be fixed through health policy and not regulation.
Setting Limits on Horizon?
Prime Minister Julia Gillard promised last year that at some stage in the future, pokie players would be required to set a daily limit on how much they are prepared to lose. But she withdrew the promise and replaced it with a commitment to voluntary daily limits, after critics said she was trying to cut a deal with an anti-gambling lawmaker who would give her a majority in Australia’s hung parliament.
Anti-gambling advocates on the other hand, point to research that shows a significant percentage of money into pokies comes from problem gamblers, and that a majority of Australians are in favour of setting limits. With the balance of power shifting once again in Canberra, it will be interesting to see whether Gillard once again tries to enforce pokie limits.