Australian Poker Machine Reforms Agreed
A controversial watered-down poker machine reform bill has been agreed, after the Greens backed the Gillard government scheme. The agreement includes a trial of mandatory precommitment, something which has been the subject of hot debate this year.
The agreement came after months of negotiation. The Greens made several offers to support the bill of $1 maximum bets were accommodated, but those offers were mostly ignored. The bill in the form which the Greens have now agreed to support will see every poker machine in the country offer players the option to set how much they are willing to lose.
Independent Andrew Wilkie declared his reluctant support for the bill, and spoke out against the Greens, saying that they are standing in the way of unprecedented federal poker machine reform.
Now that the bill has the support of several independents, as well as the Greens, it should pass through the lower house and the Senate.
The bill has been troubled at every stage of its creation. The clubs and pokies industry are against the bill because of the expense that they would face converting machines to the precommitment system. They also believe that the system would not help the most serious problem gamblers. Pokies lobbyists are also vehemently opposed to the $1 maximum bet limit, something which the goverment also agrees would probably be too costly to implement
Under the government’s plan, all new machines will have to be precommitment ready, and existing machines must be converted by 2016. If the trial of optional precommitment proves beneficial, a mandatory system could be introduced by the government in the future.