5 December 2019
The South Australian Government has ensured gambling harm will increase in the state by passing legislation to allow note feeders for poker machines to be introduced.
Alliance for Gambling Reform Chief Advocate, the Rev Tim Costello, said the SA Government had failed to listen to people with lived experience of gambling harm, and instead pandered to the gambling industry.
“The South Australian Premier, Steven Marshall, and his government should hang their heads in shame over this decision,” Rev Costello said.
“South Australians have already lost more than $15 billion on the scourge that is poker machines since they were introduced 25 years ago, and that figure will only continue to rise with these note feeders to be introduced.
“Something that I can’t bear to imagine is how many South Australian families have been torn apart due to gambling harm, or how many people have lost jobs and are living in cars due to these insidious machines that are designed to addict people.
“We know that all of these tragic, yet avoidable, situations are the impacts of gambling on poker machines. I can’t fathom how any government can know the impact these awful, addictive machines have on communities and yet still legislate to make them even more harmful.”
Adelaide-based gambling reform campaigner, Shonica Guy, said the introduction of note feeders for poker machines in SA would be “an absolute step backwards in trying to reduce gambling harm in the state”.
“I am completely astounded that the South Australian Government has ignored the concerns raised by people with lived experience of gambling harm and passed this legislation,” Ms Guy said.
“It’s pretty simple really: it is a lot easier to lose track of your gambling when you are feeding a $50 note into a machine instead of 50 $1 coins.
“I speak from lived experience. My brain was hijacked by poker machines 24 years ago. It took me 14 years to overcome my addiction to them, and that’s because the industry knows exactly what it is doing when creating the features, the lights, the music on poker machines.
“Those 14 years are lost to me. I was milked of my money, and those years of my life. I cannot bear the thought of other people experiencing the same.”
Rev Costello said this new legislation demonstrated the need for a ban on political donations from the gambling industry.
“It’s ludicrous for us to be seeking change to reduce gambling harm when politicians are financially beholden to the industry,” he said.
“Electoral Commission SA records show donations of $42,279.60 to the Liberal Party from the Australian Hotels Association this year. In the lead-up to the 2018 SA election, the poker machine industry backed both major parties, donating in almost equal measure to the then South Australian Labor government and the Liberal opposition.
“You don’t have to be very cynical to draw the dots between these donations and this legislation.”