Across the country, responsible gambling advocates are working hard to enact measures that will reduce problem gambling rates. However, a new government initiative that offers bars and clubs a commission on poker machine turnover could have the opposite effect.
Effective in October, the new measure will provide bar and club owners with a commission based on the amount of money that their poker machines make. It is aimed at compensating the 966 venues across the country that host pokies, providing the owners with a commission worth up to 1.28% of the weekly turnover on their pokies.
The new measure has responsible gambling advocates concerned. With club owners being offered a commission based on the amount of money that players spend on pokies, staff members are less likely to intervene when they suspect that a player is exhibiting problem gambling behaviour.
Denise Roche, spokesperson for The Greens expresses these concerns:
“You have got a guy sitting there for hours obviously in distress and you have got staff who may want to intervene but the venue owner is saying ‘no, no we want to get our 1.28 per cent’.”
Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne has also acknowledged this issue, stating that ‘venues may be incentivised to maximise income relative to costs’. He also notes that this may lead to a ‘risk of some venues being less likely to intervene when problem gambling is suspected or occurring’.
Dunne has suggested counterbalancing the issue by offering fair and adequate pay to gambling venues. This would provide the venues with the resources necessary to combat problem gambling among their players, intervening when appropriate to offer them potential assistance.
The new commission scheme will take effect in October 2016, and it is likely to spark up plenty of debates. We will keep you posted as this story develops.