Tasmanian gambling review recommends $10,000 limits for poker machines – Mercury

Meg Webb Gambling, News and Media

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By David Beniuk
August 20, 2017

Jackpot limits of $10,000 should be considered for poker machines, along with stricter limits on cash payouts and ATM withdrawals, a review of the state’s gambling code has recommended.

The Liquor and Gaming Commission’s first review of the Responsible Gambling Mandatory Code of Practice has concluded a range of options should be examined to address problem gambling.

A jackpot limit similar to interstate caps of $10,000 is among the options, along with:

A REDUCTION in cash payouts from $1000 to $5000;

ATM and EFTPOS withdrawals as low as $100 per person per day;

BAN on the cashing of cheques;

BAN on alcohol service to poker machine players;

BAN on advertising poker machines inside venues;

LOYALTY program statements to include turnover, hours played, wins and losses and a lifetime tally.

The paper has been criticised by both sides of the poker-machine debate, with opponents adamant the measures don’t go far enough and the industry calling them “over the top”.

Three states — NSW, Queensland and South Australia — currently limit jackpots on stand-alone machines to $10,000, but Tasmania has no limit.

Anglicare Social Action and Research Centre research shows jackpots in some countries with drastically lower limits. In the UK, maximum payouts are just $170, while in New Zealand they are $940 and Canada $990.

“Because we have an absolutely open-ended jackpot we’ve got huge machine volatility,” Anglicare’s Meg Webb said. “For most people playing for most of the time, they’re not getting anything like that [average] 85 cents in the dollar return to player because it’s getting sucked into bigger jackpots.”

Ms Webb said the review’s options would not do enough to beat Tasmania’s 6000-10,000 at-risk gamblers.

“The thing that will really reduce the harm is to significantly restrict the access we have to them by only having them in casinos,” she said.

Tasmanian Hospitality Association boss Steve Old said measures such as reducing payouts only caused users to gamble more and reduce their winnings to receive their cash.

“We believe that Tasmania has strong harm minimisation practices already,” Mr Old said. “This is very much over the top and a pretty drastic report and we’re going to fight it hard.”

Mr Old said four current reviews were under way into gambling in Tasmania, causing concern and confusion among operators.

The paper also comes as Federal Group proposes an end to its gaming machine monopoly after coming to an agreement with the THA.

The Commission is inviting submissions on the options paper until September 15.