Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Mandatory Gambling Limits in Australia?

Electronic gaming machines in Australia are slated to be retrofitted with card readers or other devices that will be able to keep track of a player's wagers. The idea is to enforce limits to gambling -- and it will be mandatory for gamblers to pre-specify those limits, at least if the central government gets its way. The proposal is meeting significant opposition, with pubs, clubs, and hotels that host gaming machines involved in the backlash. One of the animating developments behind the "mandatory pre-commitment" movement is the 2010 Productivity Commission report on gambling that (once again) showed the extent to which profits drawn from electronic gaming machines come from problem gamblers. From Chapter 5 (pdf here) of the report:

"Based on available survey data, there are between 80 000 and 160 000 Australian adults suffering significant problems from their gambling (0.5 to 1.0 per cent of adults), with a further 230 000 to 350 000 experiencing moderate risks that may make them vulnerable to problem gambling (1.4 to 2.1 per cent of adults).

Although there are substantial difficulties in calculating gambling expenditure, it is estimated that problem gamblers account for 22 to 60 per cent of total gaming machine spending (average of 41). The likely range for moderate risk and problem gamblers together is 42 to 75 per cent."


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