Tuesday, 28 December 2010

The Truth About Pre-Commitment Reform Advertisement

Here is a copy of the advertisement the subject of newspaper articles in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian.So that readers can experience the advocacy underway by the NSW pokie clubs, click on the image and have a read of what the Mt Pritchard pokies club (Mounties) is sending to their members.Please bear with me and wade through some more "Truths" that balance the discourse.

Full Pre-commitment is is not an Andrew Wilkie creation nor an "outrageous policy" of Nick Xenophon. It is the key solution recommended after 11 years of study by the Productivity Commission as the best means to target problem pokie gamblers. All interested in the pokie gambling were welcome to put submissions. Representatives of ClubsNSW were fully consulted and heard both publicly and privately.

Adult prevalence rates be misleading according to the Productivity Commission. My view is that the statement made by the CEO of Sydney Juniors "It's a shame that the 99.6% of the community that gamble responsibly have to be over regulated for the .4% that don't" is misleading. I've reproduced their finding on this point below:
"Adult prevalence rates can be misleading
It is commonplace to represent prevalence estimates as shares of the adult population, but these figures can be highly misleading.
Currently adult prevalence rates are 0.7 percent and 1.7 percent of the adult population for problem and moderate risk gambling respectively. That looks small — and indeed some segments of the industry have suggested that consequently the social policy significance of such problems is also small. However, to put these figures in context, only around 0.15 per cent of the population are admitted to hospital each year for traffic accidents and around 0.2 per cent of the population are estimated to have used heroin in the preceding year. Small population prevalence rates do not mean small problems for society."
The better measure is people gambling regularly on pokies. Again, I'll reproduce the self-explanatory findings of the Productivity Commission:
"While the results vary by surveys, it is estimated that around:
– 600 000 Australian adults (just under 4 per cent) play the pokies weekly or more.
– 15 per cent (95 000) of this group are ‘problem gamblers’. A further 15 per cent of pokie players face ‘moderate risks’."
I have been to many NSW pokie clubs and many more pokie clubs and pubs. I understand what the IPART report said (based upon ClubsNSW own figures) about the value of clubs and the bulk of their "value" comprises of discounts on goods or services e.g. a cheap beer, a cheap parma or a cheap game of snooker for members. For this, Clubs benefit from a lower rate of state pokie taxes, full tax deductions for community donations (and even these may comprise only of services - not cash), land leased for peppercorn rents from local councils, as mutuals no Federal income tax on member derived income (this includes pokie gambling losses) and as sporting bodies, no income tax at all.
They enjoy an advantage on small businesses.
And they are whining for more subsidies. And, as we know, the Coalition has caved to this whining.
All the while, by their own admission, problem gamblers lose $800 million per annum gambling on ClubsNSW pokies.

A pre-commitment device is not mandatory for casual gamblers. Everyone does not have to set a limit. To say that this is the case misrepresents not only the Productivity Commission report but also Federal government policy. Here's what Jenny Macklin actually said:
"We also want to minimise the impact on occasional players and overseas visitors. The Productivity Commission’s model would allow occasional gamblers to play outside the pre-commitment system, by purchasing a pre-paid card for example."
Club NSW members should know about the points in my ad and I was prepared to put my money where my mouth is.

It seems that The Australian agrees that pokie reform is due. Click here to read today's editorial under the title of "Fostering responsible gambling". Or simply keep reading as I have reproduced the editorial in its entirety below:
JULIA Gillard has good reason to hold her ground as licensed clubs step up their campaign against the government's proposal.

That is, the government's proposal to mandate "pre-commitment" technology on poker machines in 2012 if the states fail to do so. The proliferation of poker machines in pubs in some states suggests that the gambling industry is rather good at getting its own way, especially when governments are too weak or too cash-strapped to resist. We trust the federal government is made of stronger stuff, but it should guard against rushing into half-baked measures that create problems and later have to be reversed.

Ultimately, individuals are responsible for their own spending, but pre-commitment technology fosters individual responsibility. Poker machines would be electronically linked across Australia, and players would be obliged to place a binding limit on how much they are prepared to lose. Such decisions are far better made in a rational manner before the first push of the button.

Offending the clubs and hotel lobbies will be deeply unpopular in sections of the Labor Party, which has long benefited from generous political donations from the industry. The states, which are more addicted to poker machines than the most hardened gambler, would also oppose any move that forced them to cut spending to offset the revenue losses that would flow from a reduction in gaming revenue, which provides virtual rivers of gold. In NSW, for example, gambling accounted for $1.6 billion last year, providing 8.6 per cent of revenue.

Pre-commitment technology would hardly be draconian in light of the Productivity Commission's finding that of the 600,000 Australians who play poker machines weekly, almost one in six players -- about 95,000 people -- are problem gamblers. The commission found that playing a single machine at high intensity, it was easy to lose $1500 in an hour -- a level of loss that hurts many families and individuals, especially in poorer outer-metropolitan suburbs and regional centres with heavy concentrations of pokies. The opposition wants pre-commitment to be voluntary. Unfortunately, it is the very people who most need help who would be likely to resist. Problem gambling and sensible poker machine regulation warrant a mature community debate, which is under way.


Anonymous said...

hey, I cant see the advertisement in the Mercury. The Sydney Morning herald said it was going to run yesterday.

Anonymous said...

what gives? I've bought the Mercury the past 2 days and the ad hasnt run.

Anonymous said...

I guess the advertisement isn't running in the Ilawarra Mercury. Pathetic. Cant help feel this was just another stunt. Should have known better.