ClubsACT Calls for Canberra-Wide Problem Gambler Exclusion

ClubsACT today launched its five point plan to tackle problem gambling, to ensure that the Canberra Community remains the most protected in Australia.

The plan includes the introduction of:

  • A venue cap of 280 machines in any single venue in the ACT, with a firm commitment to reducing machines to 4000 by 2020;
  • A Canberra-wide problem gambler exclusion process;
  • A Problem Gambling Intervention Officer;
  • A Gambling Harm Advisory Task Force; and
  • No expansion of gambling products in the ACT: No machines in the casino and no casino style games in clubs.

Talking to a group of industry stakeholders that included Relationships Australia, Members of the Legislative Assembly, and clubs, Gwyn Rees Chief Executive outlined a five point plan, which signaled Australia’s most comprehensive harm-minimisation lobbying agenda.

On the venue cap:

“There will be no super clubs like those found in other states, rather a diverse range of sporting, cultural and social clubs, which has been the hallmark of Canberra’s community clubs.

On the exclusion process:

“If you are a problem gambler, your exclusion should be territory-wide.  It is not enough to exclude from one venue, the risk of harm is a price that is too high.  People who exclude, should be excluded from all venues, whether it is a pub, TAB, casino or a club.

On the Problem Gambling Intervention Officer (PGIO):

“We accept the community has a trust issue with clubs, when it comes to the management of problem gambling.  The PGIO will be independent and should be independently appointed by the Government.  This role should be tasked with signing off on the exclusion process and signing off when someone wishes to return to a gambling environment.

“With this forward thinking strategy, the club industry will no longer be the foxes in charge of the hen house.

On the Gambling Harm Advisory Committee:

“ClubsACT on establishment of the committee will work on practical solutions to deal with problem gambling.  They will reach agreement to implement industry best practice and ensure problem gamblers are front and centre in clubs decision making.

On no further expansion of gambling products in the Territory:

“ClubsACT will continue to publically advocate for no machines in the Casino and no Casino games in clubs.  We have listened to the community, we have not and will not advocate for an expansion of gaming in the Territory, unlike others.”

The ACT remains the only jurisdiction where electronic gaming machines are not operated in casinos and to a lesser extent in pubs. This could be a very important difference in terms of problem gambling rates because the ACT has the lowest in the nation at 0.4% (0.5% in 2009)[1]. This compares to 0.8% in New South Wales, 0.5% in Queensland, 0.6% in South Australia and 1.0% in Victoria – all of whom operate casinos.

“Whilst acknowledging how we rate against other parts of the country, any level of problem gambling is a concern and ClubsACT member clubs will continue to lead the nation in undertaking a range of proactive measures to reduce rates of problem gambling further.

“ClubsACT and its member clubs remain proud of the community club gaming model which has best served the Canberra community for over 40 years and we look forward to participating in discussions with the Gaming Minister.  Mr Rees concluded.

ENDS

[1] http://www.gamblingandracing.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/846904/2014-Survey-on-Gambling,-Health-and-Wellbeing-in-the-ACT-Summary-of-Findings.pdf