Monday, 23 February 2009

How hard is it to post a sign?

Tomorrow I front my first government pokie inquiry. It's the South Australian inquiry into barring arrangements. In Victoria it is called "self exclusion". What happens is that a gambler who thinks they have a problem voluntarily signs a deed with a pokie venue saying that if he or she turns up there; please kick me out. What I'm going to say, is based upon what I've seen in South Australia of Woolworths and Coles pokie pubs... and I've been to all of them.

Given my problems with getting the Victorian Department of Justice not to black out portions of what the relevant things I have to say, South Australia's attitude is refreshing. They allow you to say whatever you want about pokies. Even it its off topic. Click here to read the Independent Gambling Authority's terms of reference.

As a result, my submission is in two parts; relevant and not so relevant

Part 1 - Relevant
In South Australia there is a provision in their non-compulsory code of practice that venue operators
"will ensure, to the extent reasonably possible, that self excluded customers are not allowed to enter, or remain in, gambling areas from which they have been excluded"
One of the ways this is done is to post signs that tell people who are self-barred to report to management and if they don't they might get fined. Posting signs is a simple thing. Far less sophisticated than trying to spot all the people who might have self-barred themselves who are so compelled to pokie gamble; they will try to sneak back in.

You can have a look at summary of the first PokieWatch.org round of visits conducted by myself and Sue Pinkerton, a local S.A. campaigner. Click here to read my uncensored submission direct from the South Australian web site.

Like Victoria and Queensland, it was rare to see any promotion of the existence of a self exclusion programme at any S.A. venue. So it should be no surprise that few people are participating.

Given the irregularity of performance Sue and I observed, my core submission to this inquiry is:
"Given the evidence that a significant number of the pokie pubs visited appeared unable to perform the simple act of placing these notices at the entrances to their pokie areas, it is submitted that these venue operators demonstrate an incapacity to provide or enforce a self exclusion facility"

It might be that the way to run effective self-barring is by the use of an electronic admission card with a photographic image. My suggestion is that having a dedicated staff member to visually admit patrons might fix the problem. I also submitted that:
"Consideration should be given to Internet distributed information whereby the venues, the regulatory body and the public can each view and report upon the gaming area environment. While the identities of self-barred individuals should be only selectively available, the promotion and operational details of each venue’s self-barring facility should be freely available."
Part 2 - Less Relevant
Given any opportunity, I will submit for the exclusion of children from pokie places.
This submission will begin by showing a re-edited version of the PokieWatch slide show. You can have a look now:

video

I have a bit of time between my flight out of Adelaide and the end of the inquiry. I will try to blog on how it all went.

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