9 August 2019
The possible introduction of “poker machines by stealth” in Western Australia has been slammed by the Alliance for Gambling Reform’s spokesman, the Rev Tim Costello.
Rev Costello has called on the WA Government to abandon its plans to lift restrictions on addictive electronic gambling as part of legislation for the sale of the state’s TAB. The Bill currently under debate will enable the introduction of highly addictive simulated racing machines, known as ‘Trackside’ into TAB outlets around WA.
“For a long time Western Australia rightly had the bragging rights of only having poker machines in its casino, and those are bragging rights the state should look to maintain. Having this limitation in place has protected the community from exposure to these highly addictive, and frankly dangerous, machines,” Rev Costello said.
“The fact keeping pokies out of WA was considered bipartisan within Western Australian politics was fantastic, and recognition of the harm poker machines cause.
“WA currently has the lowest expenditure on gambling in Australia due to its ban on pokies outside the casino, and as a result has the lowest rates of problematic gamblers seeking financial counselling. That’s a Western Australian success story. I cannot fathom why the WA Government would tamper with this.
“The fact is that these simulated racing machines are just poker machines by stealth, and bring with them all the inherent dangers that pokies have.
“The speed at which the “races” are turned over leads itself to the repeated dopamine releases that poker machines induce, and thus the same addictive qualities.
“The Alliance for Gambling Reform urges the WA Government to reconsider this legislation to avoid the crippling harm these machines will undoubtedly cause on people and communities in Perth and beyond.”
Rev Costello said poker machines and simulated racing machines lead to the loss of more than money.
“In extreme cases, poker machines and other forms of gambling cause the loss of lives due to suicide,” he said. “Then there’s the loss of homes, families, relationships, jobs, cars and more due to gambling harm.
“These machines are designed to fleece people regardless of socio-economic background or geography, and especially target people who may be feeling isolated or lonely.
“It’s time governments responded to gambling harm as a public health issue, akin to smoking. Smoking in bars was once pervasive and you couldn’t go out without coming home stinking of cigarette smoke.
“Now we can go out and enjoy ourselves without the effects of passive smoking. The people of WA deserve similar protections from gambling harm, and shouldn’t be subjected to pokies by stealth.”
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