In 2005, the Australian government set a goal to reduce gambling harm by eliminating 3000 poker machines from the country. Now, 7 years later, the government is struggling to meet its goal, as over 700 poker machines that should have been removed are left – and only 13 have been eliminated thus far.
The initiative was launched seven years ago to tackle problem gambling on a large scale. Only pokies from hotels were set to be removed, which did not sit very well with hotel operators and the general public. Since problem gambling is everywhere, most people believed that poker machines should have been removed from all types of gambling venues – but the government went ahead with the program as planned.
Now, a roadblock seems to have appeared. With 700 poker machines left until the goal is met, the government is having trouble getting rid of them. Even though owners are able to sell their machines (and the price has increase from $30 000 to $50 000), they are reluctant to do so, with all 700 pokies bringing in $38 million per year.
While 13 machines seem disappointing, the government is optimistic. A statement from the Office of the Independent Gambling Authority says that the office had expected no trades to take place, so 13 is a victory thus far.