Card-based gaming system will save lives, money and families
The Liberal Government’s decision to introduce a card-based system for electronic gaming machines will have enormous benefits across the State.
Most importantly, fewer people will be harmed by poker machine gambling.
The innovative system will reduce gambling harm by allowing people to set a limit on how much money they are willing to lose – before they sit down at a poker machine.
It will put more control in the hands of the person gambling, allowing them to make their own decisions about their finances and their future. It will also be completely confidential.
The new system will have benefits for the gambling industry too. It will help to clean up its image in a State where the majority of people believe that gambling does more harm than good in our community.
The industry’s ‘dirty little secret’ – that 40% of gambling revenue is from people with a gambling addiction – has been on full view in Tasmania for years. What a relief it will be for venues, their staff, and the wider community to have a sensible public health measure in place to reduce gambling harm. It will also minimise any risk of venues being used to launder the proceeds of crime.
Gambling stops being a fun recreational activity for people when they lose significantly more money than they intended or can afford. And it is not only gamblers who are hurt. Research shows that in a year, over 57,000 Tasmanians are being harmed by someone else’s gambling. That’s around 10 per cent of the State’s population.
Sometimes the effect of gambling harm may seem small, such as struggling to pay a bill, having to say no to your kids, asking friends or family to bail you out, or just feeling like you have let your partner down. But gambling harm can escalate quickly and contribute to losing your job, your relationship with loved ones, your house, your mental health, and – in the most tragic cases – to suicide.
The card-based system for poker machines is an excellent, workable tool that will save lives, save money, and save families.
The Government has promised it will be in place by the end of 2024. This targeted system will make a truly game-changing difference for people using poker machines, the gambling industry, and all Tasmanians.
If you or someone you know needs help you can contact Anglicare’s Gamblers Help on 1800 243 232. Out of hours support is available at the Gamblers Help hotline 1800 858 858.
This article was written by Mary Bennett of Anglicare Tasmania’s Social Action and Research Centre. It was published in the Advocate and Examiner newspapers on 22 December 2022.
Mary recently authored a report on how gambling harms all Tasmanians called What’s the real cost?