In Canberra, a new law has been passed that will prohibit club and pub goers from withdrawing more than $250 from ATMs. Fearing the financial consequences, venue owners are now installing EFTPOS machines that will allow players to withdraw more money and exceed the new ATM limit. The ATM limit was introduced to prevent players from chasing losses and engaging in compulsive behaviour while playing pokies.
Players can only withdraw $250, so when they have reached that limit, they will have to either go home or find another activity at the club or pub. The EFTPOS machines will allow players to withdraw cash even after they have exceeded the ATM limit. Responsible gambling advocates have hit out against the move, criticising club owners for allowing players to exceed limits that have been put in place to curb problem gambling spending.
Clubs ACT has defended the move, as EFTPOS machines are still considered an effective way of curbing problem gambling spending. If players are required to speak with an individual face-to-face in order to withdraw more cash, they are unlikely to go through with it. As such, the organisation and the venue owners that it represents are certain that the new EFTPOS machines will not contribute to a rise in problem gambling rates.
"When the ATM restrictions were brought in by the Government there was a discussion about EFTPOS,” says Jeff House of Clubs ACT. “The decision was made that if there was human interaction, which is considered very important in terms of harm minimisation, then those transactions would be fine”. The organisation also claims that the new ATM limit is also troublesome for patrons who do not gamble.
Whether or not a patron is playing pokies, they are subject to the same $250 limit. This inconveniences visitors to the venues, and may result in club profits being further compromised.