In an earlier post I discussed the use of technological fixes to limit problem gambling. In The Age a proosal by Victorian Gaming Minister Tony Robinson is advanced to do just that. I’ve been pretty savage with the Victorian ALP’s approach to the gambling issue (here, here) so it is fair that I report positive efforts they are making to address the massive social problems the pokies have led to in this state.
Roughly Robinson’s proposal is that all poker machine players be issued with electronic cards to track their gambling levels and to monitor potential problem gambling issues. I quote:
Electronic access cards to track the movements of poker machine players could be introduced as part of a radical approach to tackle the state’s gambling addiction problem.
Thousands of poker players could be required to carry the cards to gain entry to hundreds of clubs patrolled by problem-gambling experts looking for at-risk …..
Mr Robinson said the Government was in discussions with RSL Victoria about a membership swipe card system to be installed at hundreds of RSL venues next year.
Mark Johnson, the RSL’s chief operations officer, said the new card system would alert clubs to the presence of players who fitted into the problem gambling category.
The swipe machines would have an interactive screen that could lead people to more information and help to tackle their addiction, he said.
Tattersals and the clubs say they will cooperate with the proposed measures if they are effective. I will believe that if John Howard increases his majority next Saturday by 10 seats.
I believe the best solution to the pokie crisis is to gradually phase them out. This proposed measure looks administratively complex and determined problem gamblers (a large proportion of the total) will find ways around it. One way of improving its application might be to allow users to sue the clubs and hotels for excessive losses – there might be a practical way of doing this.
The State Governments have unleashed a monster which they now need to bring to heel. The monster gives them lots of revenue and lots of high-profile jobs for ex-MPs – it is sometimes difficult to take their sincerity seriously.
Meanwhile in NSW pokie users who gain winnings will be forced to ‘take a break’ by leaving their machine rather than collecting their winnings from an attendant. The idea is that pokie addicts suffer from ‘within session’ behavioural addictions that can be broken if they leave their machines for any reason because they regain their critical faculties. In my view it is a close to worthless policy because its effects can be so easily thwarted and it only applies to winners. (104)