Blow up the pokies:

Les Heimann writes: Re. “Spin masters Lawrence, Cato join forces against Clubs Australia” (yesterday, item 1). Maybe it’s a slow news week. Nonetheless independent MP Andrew Wilkie anti-poker machine campaign has dominated the news — and so it should. If ever there was a reform more needed it is this.

Poker machines are a gambling cancer on our economy, costing literally billions of dollars that are placed into the coffers of pubs, clubs and casinos. Here is an issue supported by about 70% of the population.

Are Australians opposed to gambling? Of course not, we love to gamble; but overwhelmingly we do so within our means.  How can any political party allow the rapacious behaviour of Big Gambling to continue. This is all a no brainer.

We do not need a complicated pre-commitment regime. It can be fixed by limiting the number of gambling machines, outlets, profit margins and maximum bets. Most Australian would wholeheartedly support a return to the original playing field where poker machines could only be placed in “not for profit” licensed clubs.

Additionally, there should be a  minimum payout of 90% within a small period (say 24 hours), betting denominations of no more than two cents, a maximum allowable bet of $1, a maximum number of machines in each venue (say 75), restricting the location of machines to ensure a minimum five-kilometre radius between outlets, licensing of machines with electronic reporting to a central authority and machine auditing at least six monthly.

The conditions for gambling should be such that “Big Gambling” simply ceases to exist.

Oh, and by the way, casinos should be restricted to one per state and then only for table games.

That should fix the problem.

Peter Fray

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