There was a public outcry when the federal government announced its plans to repeal the pokie reform laws that were passed last year. So, you would have thought that a bigger deal would have been made about the repeal legislation being passed – but that was not the case. This week, the changes to the original reform will were passed quietly wiping out most of the provisions that aimed to reduce gambling harm.
The repeal was passed on Tuesday, March 25th at a Senate meeting. The repeal will undo the work for MP Andrew Wilke, who worked hard last year to gain support for his pokie reform bill. While the final legislation did away with many of his original demands, it still enforced responsible gambling among local pubs and players.
It included a trial of voluntary pre-commitment technology on pokies and a limit on the amount of money that punters could withdraw from ATMs in gambling venues. Now, neither provision will be enforced by the federal government. Wilkie blames the repeal on underhanded tactics carried out by gaming industry professionals and politicians.
He states that the government has been funded with millions of dollars worth of donations from gaming clubs and pokie operators. "This is corruption of governance on an industrial scale because no business hands over that sort of money without expecting something in return," he says. It is now up to state governments to get involved in the pokie reform initiative.
Victoria has passed a number of legislations aimed at promoting responsible gambling, such as a ban on the use of headphones while playing pokies and a ban on ATMs in pokie venues. It is hoped that other states will follow suit, but pokie reform does not seem to be a major priority in the industry.