A controversial new set of laws which would demand that all Australian poker machines (pokies) include pre-commitment technology in a bid to counter problem gambling numbers, has passed its first hurdle by being accepted by the federal government’s Lower House.
The proposed measures were nearly held up after independent Member of Parliament, Tony Windsor, introduced a new set of last minute amendments, but the government accepted these suggestions and the bill cleared the Lower House.
The National Gambling Reform Bill (B2012) will have poker machine users from Down Under set their own loss limits during gaming sessions. They will also be restricted from withdrawing more than $250 from bank machines at pubs where poker machines are offered, although this last measure will not apply to ATMs in casinos.
Poker Regulations Welcomed
The amendments to Australia’s existing gambling laws were welcomed by several parties, including Families Minister, Jenny Macklin who said:
The introduction of these bills does represent the first time our national government has legislated to help tackle the harm caused by pokie machines. Macklin thanked independent MP, Andrew Wilkie from Tasmania, who has been involved in negotiations with the Gillard government to make major changes to gambling laws since the beginning.
At the beginning of 2012, Wilkie promised to support Julia Gillard as she built herself a government in return for her guarantee that problem gambling issues would be tackled by introducing pre-commitment technology to pokies by 2014. Later this year, Guillard reneged on that promise, but through ongoing negotiations, Wilkie was able to get the Lower House to accept a revised version of the new measures.
The last minute amendments introduced by Tony Windsor came to ensure that gaming venues, as well as poker machine manufacturers had sufficient time to prepare for the changes that would result from the pre-commitment technology measures. The federal government was supportive of these changes and even went so far as to thank the MPs involved for being active in the negotiations.