A recent report on ABC News Australia features a town in Canada named Sydney. In it, gambling addiction has become a huge problem among residents, and politicians are looking for ways to deal with the issue. One possible solution has been the introduction of precommitment cards, which has seen some interesting responses from local residents.
Compared to Australia’s poker machine market, Sydney’s is relatively small with just over 2000 machines. According to the report, most of the money spent on these machines comes from just a few regular players, illustrating the severity of their spending.
According to researcher Tony Shellick, problem gamblers support the idea of precommitment. He states that his research has shown that 2/3 of problem gamblers would actually use precommitment cards in order to control their spending.
“One of the things we know from all of our past research is that the people who are at-risk and problem gamblers are constantly trying to find ways to help themselves”, he says.
Other problem gamblers are not convinced that precommitment cards will do anything to help them. Debbie Langille, who spent $180 000 on her gambling habit, would rather see VLTs removed from all venues across the province.
Regardless of public opinion, however, all residents of the small town will have to present precommitment cards every time they wish to play VLTs. The results of initiative are likely to be very interesting, and the Australian government will be watching closely.