Friday, 17 June 2011

And Now The ABC Has Fallen

After years of fair coverage, the ABC has now fallen to the pokie clubs strategy to stop pokie reform. It is the very strategy that Yes Minister parodied yet the next Four Corners has been completely duped by it. Here's the hilarious Yes Minister parody extract from the Productivity Commission's report. Click on the image to have a read and a laugh.
What is not funny is how this strategy has become the reality of the battle to implement pokie reform.

The promotion for Four Corners lacks any mention of the cornerstone of the reforms. Pre-commitment was never proposed to be "mandatory" for all. The truth is that gamblers will be able to lose up to $150 per hour gambling on pokies that require no pre-commitment, no card, no license to punt. At a maximum bet of $1, this will account for 80% of existing gamblers without them having to change their gambling habits. This modest consumer protection measure asks only gamblers whose choice it is to gamble on the dangerous high intensity machines to choose how much they are prepared to lose.

Here's how Four Corners pro-pokies bias shows through:
  • The reforms are described as "radical",
  • The core question posed is "it was good politics - but was it good policy?"
  • Wilkie "cut a deal"
  • The lead advocate for the clubs statement is broadcast that "it was a deal done behind closed doors" - the truth is that the agreement has always been a matter of public record. Want a copy? Email me at pokiewatch@yahoo.com and I'll send you one.
  • The reporter states "And the punters are in a spin"
  • A gambler's statement is broadcast "people have got to register at how much they are going to play. They won't play at all". This is wrong and promotes the ClubsNSW spin without question.
It would be irresponsible of the ABC to broadcast this ignorance unless it is followed by a broadcast of the fact that the reform does not require most gamblers to either register or set any limits on their gambling.

One wonders how many times this inaccurate and biased promo will be broadcast before Monday night. It should be withdrawn and re-edited.

Click here to read the Four Corners promo page.

There appears to be more bad and biased reporting on the way...
  • The story is called "Wilkie's Gamble".
  • There is a false statement " "Labor promised to introduce smart card technology that would force gamblers to decide in advance how much they would spend when they played poker machines." The actual promise allowed for gamblers to gamble on safe machines without any card, any registration, any setting of limits.
  • The reporter's question is set "why did he choose pre-commitment technology that had never been properly tested?". The fact is that the technology has been tested. It has been in use in Australia and overseas for years.
And, in addition to stop talking about 'mandatory' when the proposal has never been mandatory, let's get something semantically straight.... pokie gambling is not play. It's not sport. It's not kicking or throwing a ball. It's not something that children do in a playground. Pokie gambling is gambling. People who gamble on pokies are gamblers.

By using the word "play" instead of gambling; the ABC has been duped by the Yes Minister strategy.

I have already written to Four Corners in an effort to have the full facts disclosed. I urge you to do the same. Click here to send a comment.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Excellent points Paul. Have taken all on board well and truly. Thanks. I also add that people who gamble on poker machines USE them...the majority do NOT play them... I am sure! Pokies gambling addicts become USERS just as much as addicted 'users' of drugs do. (Libby Mitchell. I had to sign in anonymously sorry as I have forgotten my Google ID lol)

Sue Pinkerton said...

The reporter's question, "why did he choose pre-commitment technology that had never been properly tested?" shows how little background research the ABC reporters have done.

"Wilkie" hasn't yet chosen which technology the scheme will use.

As for the issue of Wilkie "demanding a mandatory scheme" and making poker machine reforms his "make or break issue", I laugh and shake my head in wonder at the manipulation of the facts!

Four Corners has clearly not read the agreement Wilkie and Gillard signed. The word mandatory is not mentioned anywherein the document and there were four "make or break issues" that Wilkie put forward in return for his support of the Gillard Government. Poker machine reforms were the last of these issues.

I have sent a letter to the ABC. Hopefully they will think about carefully about airing the program as promoted.

Clearly reporting on the purported detrimental effects of a scheme that has not yet been defined or detailed is not good investigative journalism on their part.

PokieWatch said...

Someone has anonymously left this comment but for some reason it has not been published. Because all views are welcome, the post is reproduced below without edit:

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "And Now The ABC Has Fallen":

I find it amazing that this website criticises the club industry for missing/misstating facts when this website does exactly the same thing. Mr Wilkie does infact support mandatory pre commitment and initially this was his proposal, he then changed this to add in low turnover machines. The facts are all in black and white if you choose to read the gambling commisions reports. Also intersting to note that you fail to recognise the impact this bill will have on peoples employment, govt taxes and the second biggest revenue genrating industry in this country (tourism and hospitality). All Wilie and you bleeding herts worry about is the .05% of the population who have a problem with pokie gambling and not the 3% of the popultaion employed by the club and pub industry. There is better ways to help problem gamblers than hitting every person with restrictions. for example you could spend the money proposed to be spent on proper counceling and help for problem gamblers, you could get each club to have an independant gambling councillor on site to approach problem gamblers who are easy to identify. And all this would be cheaper

All you people are turning this country into a nanny state and restricitng the rights of responsible australians to help minorities insterad of helping the majority which would result in better prospects for this country

Piss off and leave the hospitality industry alone

PokieWatch said...

1.
Anonymous should email me for a copy of the agreement between Mr Wilkie and the Prime Minister. This way he can be satisfied as to the exact wording.

2.
The Productivity Commission found that citing whole population problem gambling prevalence to be "misleading" as many people do not pokie gamble. The preferred calculation is regular pokie gamblers. 30% of these people are at risk or have already developed problem gambling.

3.
Anonymous is wrong on the employment percentage. He has included all people employed in cafes, restaurants, takeaway foods, pubs taverns bars and gambling. Happy to provide him with an ABS extract prepared by Monash University. Even with all these people included, the figure is less than 2%

4.
Having an independent councillor on site at each pokie venue is a good but impractical idea. It is not cost efficient for at least 50% of NSW pokie venues to start with. Actual 'nearly there' systems in use cost the venue only $1.50 per day per machine. Anonymous' idea would levy a burden on these venues.

5.
Finally, the pokie industry is not the hospitality industry.

Libby Mitchell said...

Well said PokieWatch. Anonymous also fails to note that 7-10 OTHER people who are also negatively impacted by our pokies related costs and harms, in his tally. Even on his very low 0.5% estimate (that is proven to be wildly understated BTW...but never mind)...pokies harms would affect 5% of our population. That figure would also be an understatement no doubt. Public aversion is too heightened surely, unless pokies harms were not more pervasive as research suggests.

Isn't it wonderful how clubs etc refuse to acknowledge that the MAJORITY of people so far surveyed WANT these pokies reforms...? The reforms will help ALL pokies service consumers...NOT merely current problem gamblers. So what 'minority' is anonymous really talking about? That MINORITY who opposes the reforms?

Lincoln Poole said...

Paul after reading your blog and response to the negative comment, I find them to be hypocritical and nothing more then semantics.

1. You claim the ABC has "now fallen to the pokie clubs strategy to stop pokie reform" yet earlier last week ABC Central Coast Radio committed over 18 minutes of air time for you to put your point of view forward.

2. Your claim that " Pre-commitment was never proposed to be "mandatory" for all". You are right if you are referring to the Productivity Commission and the original Wilkie - Gillard agreement used the word "full". The report released by the Joint Select Cmmittee on Gambling uses the word "mandatory".

3. Your statement debuncting "The lead advocate for the clubs statement is broadcast that "it was a deal done behind closed doors" is erroneous. The fact is that the agreement was signed in private negotiations between Mr Wilkie and the Gillard Government and then was made public.

4. The agreement between Mr Wilkie and the Gillard Governement does not state anything to do with the introduction of $1 machines. That is a recommendation that has come from the Select Joint Committee on Gambling report and again a case of you playing semantics.

Paul I am at a loss that you would have to blog this when you claim to have the support of facts. I think that it is you who is playing the "Yes Minister"... game.

PokieWatch said...

Lincoln, good to have a dialogue. I'll respond.

1. Mid afternoon on ABC Central Coast does not compare to the prime time nationally influential program that is Four Corners.

2. The term "mandatory" was not used by the Productivity Commission. While Mr Wilkie uses the word, the substance of the Senate Select Committee reccommendation is not for pre-commitment that is mandatory; a vital distinction. All gamblers will not require a 'license to punt' and to suggest this is false.

3. The implication of the phrase "closed doors" is wrong. The public knew there were competing offers being discussed from both Mr Abbott and the Prime Minister. The public knew gambling reform was an issue for Mr Wilkie. The public got access to the agreement once it was agreed to. Hardly a "closed door".

4. Clause 7.5 a) of the agreement refers to "a best practice full pre-commitment scheme" "consistent with recommendations and findings of the Productivity Commission". The Commission made findings about "safe mode" machines. Dr Lattimore (of the Commission) made reference to this prior finding in his evidence before the Senate Select Committee.

Given that you were making representations broadcast on Central Coast radio on behalf of entities involved with the treatment of problem gambling, vital organisations in the battle against problem gambling, I encourage you to read the Commission's full report.

Anonymous said...

Paul,

Low intensity machines are a joke, firstly there isn't a shred of evidence to suggest they reduce problem gambling. The problem gambling prevlaence rate among UK 'low intensity' machine users is almost double that of Australia.

All the evidence on problem gambler expenditure suggests they lose on average less than $150 per hour anyway, they usually gamble frequently for long periods.

What's the point of being locked out of so-called high intensity machines if you can hop over to these other machines and still blow $150 per hour that's fast enough for almost anyone to blow there weekly disposeable income in a matter of a few hours. This hybrid system is a joke.

Focal Research in Nova Scotia found that problem gamblers using pre-commitment card spent more money gambling not less. They came back more often to chase losses.

"Among the Higher Risk players... The drop in the amount
spent per session was offset by the increased frequency of play such that the estimated monthly
out-of-pocket expenditure pre-adoption was about $350.00 compared to about $375.00 for a
post-adoption month"

This is exactly what Australia's leading gambling expert Professor Blaszczynski predicted in his testimony to the parliamentary committee.

Paul if you are serious about addressing problem gambling you realise that mandatory isn't the solution. What we need is education, public awareness and better mental health programs.

The fact is that population-based research from the USA shows that 75% of problem gamblers had pre-existing mental health condition, such as depression or anexity.

Problem gamblers play the pokies for a dissasociative experience to escape from their problems. If there was better education about the dangers of falling into problem gambling for these vulnerable groups, coupled with other mental health support programs are likely to have a far better effect than pre-commitment.

Anonymous said...

I Think Paul is coming from the heart. Sadly, he doesn't come from a position of authority or a base of knowledge. The Wilkie Xenophon camp lost me when they all but ignored the submissions of Professor Alex Blaczyznski - Australia's foremost authority in the fields of problem gambling research and treatment. Paul is passionate and emotional about the pain that problemn gambling can wreak in the lives of people. Unfortunately, that is simply not enough to actually help them.

Sue Pinkerton said...

Anonymous,

Having spoken at length with Tracy Schrans from Focal Research about their findings during the trial, what they actually found was that problem gamblers using pre-commitment card spent more TIME gambling but spent the approximately the same amount amount of money that they always did (namely all the money they had on them or could access through an ATM). Problem gamblers using the pre-commitment card learned to gamble smarter and thus ended up getting more value for money spent.

As for their finding that "they came back more often to chase losses", that "finding" had nothing to do with use of the pre-commitment card. It's part of delineating problem gamblers from non-problem gamblers. Frequent gambling and chasing losses is what problem gamblers do whether or not they used a pre-commitment card!

You also quoted the finding that, "Among the Higher Risk players... The drop in the amount
spent per session was offset by the increased frequency of play such that the estimated monthly
out-of-pocket expenditure pre-adoption was about $350.00 compared to about $375.00 for a
post-adoption month"

Owing to poor design of the research (something Focal Research was NOT involved in) the margin for error in estimating pre and post adoption spending is large. The spending data used to estimate pre-adoption spending came from just one or two sessions. Data for post adoption spending came from the 10 days of data. Had the research been designed by Focal Research, they would have obtained 1 month of data after machine users had to use a card to operate a machine before machine users were able to set a limit. They would have then compared gambling frequency, session length and losses/wins for an equal period of time before and after precomitment was offered.

What I fnd interesting is that post precomitment card adoption problm gambler spending showed a DROP in the amount spent per session. I accpet that this spending reduction was offset by an increase in TIME spent on device and a possible increase in frequency of visits. But this only shows that problem gamblers worked out which machines gave them the best value for money.

Sue Pinkerton said...

The Wilkie Xenophon camp lost me when they all but ignored the submissions of Professor Alex Blaczyznski???

So the fact that Nick, Andrew and the other memebers of the committee considered and compared the findings of many other Australian researchers (including Alex's) as well as the findings of pre-eminent researchers from around the globe makes no difference to you?

The fact that they failed to bow down before the only researcher whose views you happen to agree with causes you to discount the whole committee?

Wow!

Lincoln Poole said...

Paul thanks for your response and it is good to have a dialogue.

1. While Central Coast radio does not compare to prime time the fact is that both belong to the same organisation. To say they have fallen when you were given that time is hypocritical.

2. The fact is that unitl the Select Joint Committee released their report the term "mandatory" and "full" were used interchangably by Mr Wilkie, Senator Xenophon and everyone else in the debate.

3. Taken in context it is used correctly. Mr Wilkie may have campaigned on gambling reform, but not on gambling reform by means of full pre-commitment. The fact is that there was over 50 recommendations in the PC report. Mr Wilkie used one that has had no public debate or proper research to make a deal with the government. There has still been no debate because the Joint Select Committee terms of reference was how to introduce it not if it should be.

4. The recommendation from the PC report was for the current machine to have a $1 "Safe Mode" not the introduction of new $1 machines. The design described in the PC report was when a person hit their limit the machine would switch to "Safe Mode" where the maximum bet would be $1. The introducion of new machines was not apart the deal set by the Wilkie-Gillard agreement.

5. I was not representing any organisation or entity when I went on radio. I appeared in my own time as myself. I did so to bring a balanced point of view to a debate that to me is polical in nature and is taking resources from helping problem gamblers.

PokieWatch said...

The following post was received by me from Anonymous but for reasons unknown did not find its way online. Here it is:

Anonymous has left a new comment on the post "And Now The ABC Has Fallen":

Sue

Unless the players migrated to different machines, which is highly unlikely given the context of the research, small venues with very few machines. Any additional time/winnings they got from their initial investment is purely due to random variation and nothing to do with the player or the pre-commitment technology. That Focal suggested otherwise shows a complete lack of understanding of the maths behind gaming machines.

Fact is like you said there was no change in (or slight increase in the case high risk players) in monthly out-of-pocket expenditure.

To spend billions of dollars on a system based on the Nova Scotia results is stupidity. Personally I can't understand how the PC can justify recommending it in the first place.

If we could find a way to get those poor souls who turn to the pokies to escape from their depression, anxiety, boredom and social isolation into counselling before they develop a problem gambling habit we have a much more effective policy. Given not every problem gambler has a pre-existing mental health issue but research suggests its the vast majority.

Paul must feel like a bit of putz after watch the actual 4 corners program.

Sue Pinkerton said...

Just watched the Four Corners program in it's entirety. It was a far more balanced report than the promotional blurb on their web site suggested.

Random Number Generator said...

for the Pauls and the Sues of this world, we know nothing will alter your views on mandatory pre-commitment. Nontheless, you may still derive a little value from reading this excellent article in today's SMH by Michael Keane - a lecturer in public health at Monash University.

http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/elites-are-gambling-away-our-freedoms-20110623-1ghco.html

PokieWatch said...

"Random Number Generator" - What a great name!

I did read that opinion piece. I will quote the Productivity Commission:

"while there are reasonable social expectations that people take responsibility for their own behaviour, that does not limit the need for significant regulation of gambling. Moreover, to the extent that people face gambling problems because of co-morbid conditions or unsafe features of gambling technologies and venue environments, labelling them as ‘irresponsible’, as some industry groups have done,3 risks stigmatising people who need help, while deflecting attention away from product safety issues."

The "3" relates to a note that the source was Clubs Australia, Media Release, 21 October 2009

The author of the Opinion piece probably objects to wearing a seat belt, having to pay for air bags, applying for a drivers license, having to give up his ID to rent a video or paying for a fishing permit. He might even feel guilty about his own academic status.

No one is restricting the choice of the strictly adult's only entertainment that is gambling.

The Productivity Commission's reccomendations are such modest consumer protection measures with enormous benefits. One wonders what the fuss is really all about.

Sue Pinkerton said...

Random Number Generator, I have never been a subscriber to the disease model of addiction, so in this, I agree with Michael Keane.

I have major issues with the notion of standing before a group of people and saying "I am a compulsive XYZ, but I haven't done XYZ for 35 years".

To me it is like saying, "I am incontinent of urine but I haven't worn nappies for 53 years"....clearly after 53 years of continence, I am no longer incontinent. The same has to go for people who have not placed a bet for 5, 10, 35 years. At what point can they no longer legitimately call themselves "compulsive gamblers"?

As for personal responsibility, I accept that the only person who can alter my behaviour (thereby no longer doing what is causing problems in my life) is me.

What I do not accept is that it is my fault for getting hooked in the first place. That was something I did not freely or consciously choose.

I do not accept the disease model which encourages addicts to blame their unexplained "character defects" for having become an addict.

Let me explain this responsibility thing further (I hope you have children). Who is responsible for a child becoming toilet trained? The child or the adult?

In my view, it is the adult is responsible. It is they who encourage, reinforce and generally praise peeing on the potty behaviour. It is the adult who knows what the eventual outcome of the "training" will be - they work hard to ensure the outcome they seek will happen. The child has no idea what the outcome will be - they simply respond to the training by repeating the behaviour that is praised, reinforced. The child has absolutely no idea how deeply ingrained the peeing on the potty behaviour will become....on the other hand, the adult who is responsible for the training does know.
More to follow....

Sue Pinkerton said...

So too with poker machine addiction - the programmer of the machine KNOWS what the outcome of randomly and intermittently reinforcing push button behaviour will be. They actively work to design the games in ways that result in the machine user

(a)spending longer times playing the games they design than they do on less successful games,
(b) to return again and again to the same machine and
(c) to spend more money on this game than they do on other games.

Game designers design the games so that the gambler will eventually lose (and the machine owner to profit), yet they continue to design games that are more entrancing, faster and that ultimately manipulate player behaviour so that they stay longer and spend more money.

They may say they design the games to be more entertaining....I say this is word play that the industry is well known for (we call it gaming, not gambling, we talk of credits not money, we talk of players not gamblers etc )...the games are ultimately designed to be "EN-TRAINING".

The best behavioural management systems reinforce behaviour within 3 seconds of the desired behaviour being performed. Is it purely by chance that the most successful games have a bet cycle of less than 3 seconds? I don't think so! Is it purely chance that has seen the removal of slower machines with 3-5 lines and mechanical reels from the gaming room floor, only to be replaced with faster machines with multiple lines (that result in more frequent reinforcement)? Again, I don't think so.

Poker machine addicts aren't born addicted and they don't choose to become addicted....they are created by careful machine design and they unwittingly respond to the behaviour manipulation initiated by the game designers!

Sue Pinkerton said...

In summation, pokies addiction is the responsibility of the game designers....recovery from pokies addiction is the responsibility of the addict.

Anonymous said...

Sue

While operant conditioning can explain all behaviour to some extent. It is important to note that according to the PC only 15% of weekly gamblers are problem gamblers, the vast majority develop no addiction. Therefore, it is almost certainly a combination of the inidividual and the product experience that causes the addiction. Just like most of use can safely consume alcohol without developing an addiction.

What you miss is that for many (not all) problem gamblers the dissassocative experience that allows them to escape from their personal problems is the main reinforcement. The exact same experience sought by alcoholics.

I don't see problem gambling as a disease, in many cases it is a symptom of depression, anxiety, boredom etc.

However, it is perfectly normal for you as former problem gambler to over attribute your problem to external factors (i.e. the machines).

The fact is that their are many countries with no gaming machines and very high rates of problem gambling. Their are instances where machines have been completely removed from a market and the problem gambling rate has risen.

To attribute problem gambling completely to poker machines ignores the reality.

Sue Pinkerton said...

I understand why you - as a person involved in peddling gaming machines - might prefer to see problem gambling as a symptom of depression, anxiety, boredom etc. After all, that is not so far removed from what drug pushers see as the cause of drug addiction too. Just as it’s “perfectly normal” for gamblers to “over attribute your problem to external factors” it is perfectly normal for pushers of addictive products/substances to over attribute the problems their product causes to “external factors” – i.e. the faulty choices, character defects, depression and anxiety of the person who becomes hooked on it!

Far be it for any pusher of addictive products to accept ANY responsibility for their actions. They might get sued if they admitted that their product addicts! The few people from the gaming industry That I’ve met who’ve realized that the machines addict, couldn’t justify continuing to make money from that product given the misery and harm the product they were peddling caused.

You claim that “their[sic] are many countries with no gaming machines and very high rates of problem gambling”.

Which countries would that be?

My bet (pun intended) their number would be no where near the number of countries where rates of problem gambling increase dramatically within five years after there introduction of gaming machines.

You also claim “their [sic] are instances where machines have been completely removed from a market and the problem gambling rate has risen”.

Again, which country/countries would that be?

I can’t say I’ve heard of too many that have completely removed gaming machines from their market, let alone any where problem gambling has subsequently increased!

Sue Pinkerton said...

In support of my argument that the machines (and thus their pushers) are responsible for a significant proportion of problematic gambling, there is my research exploring the impact on the incidence of problem gambling of the introduction of gaming machine to SA and WA.

In 1990, both South Australia (population of 1.5 million people) and Western Australia (population of 1.9 million people) had some 14 different forms of legalised gambling accessible through a large number of outlets throughout their respective states. Both states had one centrally located casino. At that time, Western Australia had an estimated 3,000 problem gamblers – South Australia had an estimated 2,500 problem gamblers.

In 1994, South Australia introduced 15,000 multiple lined, electronic gambling machines into 600 venues scattered throughout the state. Western Australia introduced just 1,500 electronic gambling machines into their one casino.

By 1999 – with NO OTHER GAMBLING PRODUCTS INTRODUCED TO EITHER STATE - South Australia’s problem gambling population had blown out to 23,000 people. An almost ten fold increase. Western Australia’s problem gambling population on the other hand, had grown from 3,000 people to 7,000 people.

One might like to infer that Western Australians suffer less anxiety or depression than people from SA, but the introduction of gaming machines and the ease of access to them experienced in SA is a much more likely candidate for the massive increase in problem gambling in SA!

The research of Bridwell and Quinn examined the effect banning gambling machines had on problem gambling in South Carolina. (Bridwell, R. Randall and Frank L. Quinn, 2002, “From Mad Joy to Misfortune: The Merger of Law and Politics in the World of Gambling,” Mississippi Law Journal, 72, 2, 565-729). Beginning July 1, 2000, South Carolina banned slot machines by court order. Six months later, the number of Gamblers Anonymous groups had dropped from 32 to 11 (currently, there are just 9) and the attendance at meetings fell from a typical size of about 40 to as few as one or two (Bridwell and Quinn, 2002, p. 718). During the same time, the number of help-line calls in Horry County (Myrtle Beach) dropped from 200 per month to zero (Ibid.)

According to Gyllstrom & Engebo in their paper presented at the International Gambling Conference, Looking Forward: New Directions in Research and Minimising Public Harm, held in Auckland, New Zealand (“Regulatory changes and finally a ban on existing slot machines in Norway: What’s the impact on the market and problem gambling?”), the Norwegian government found the main problems for gamblers were connected to pokies, which were privately operated. From 1 July 2007, gaming machines were banned in Norway. Gyllstrom & Engebo found this lead reduced number of calls to gambling hotline, a reduction in numbers of people seeking help for their gambling AND no corresponding increase in spending on other forms of gambling that remained legal at the time of the ban.

To attribute problem gambling predominantly to the “depression, anxiety and boredom of the people who develop problems controlling their gambling, ignores the reality that something about gaming machines creates addicts out thousands of people who have gambled responsibly for years until they came into contact with gaming machines!

PS – movies, meditation and classical music concerts provide a very similar dissociative experience to that of gaming machines but you don’t see people becoming hooked on going to the movies, musical concerts of meditating to an extent where they are harmed by that experience or to the extent where they need help quitting!

Anonymous said...

Hong Kong has a very high rate of problem gambling and no poker machines but easy access to gambling on horse races.

In fact, according to Government Commission research, Norway has had a 60% increase in the prevalence rate of problem gambling since the removal of poker machines in 2007.

Sue Pinkerton said...

Dear anonymous,
Please go to,
http://www.easg.org/media/file/vienna2010/presentations/Thursday/1330/P2/4_Jonny_Engebo.pdf

From slot machines to gaming terminals - experiences with regulatory changes in Norway

Presented in Vienna September 2010 by, Jonny Engebø Senior adviser to The Norwegian Gaming Authority

Fewer seek treatment

From a short survey in 2008: 17 of 33 services listed on the helpline for problem gamblers participated.

2005: 549 persons in treatment
2006: 442 persons in treatment <- ban on note acceptor 1. July
2007: 275 persons in treatment <- ban on slot machines 1. July

SINTEF 2009: The former frequent slot machine players:

58% gamble less now.
6% have stopped completely
9% generally gamble more now
29% report improved economy

29 problem gamblers were recruited to more in-depth interviews

22 of them had played slot machines,
9 had stopped or reduced their gambling since the ban
5 had stopped before the ban
8 were still gambling at same level or more.

Calls to helpline!

2003 – 2,237 calls
2004 – 2,276 calls
2005 – 2,133 calls
2006 – 1,792 calls (note acceptor ban from 01/07/2006)
2007 - 1,117 calls (ban on gaming machines 01/07/2007)
2008 – 814 calls
2009 – 817 calls (new machines introduced)
2010 – 464 calls (data for first 6 months only)

At the Helpline, slot machines were game #1 until 2007
Large drop in calls with the ban on note acceptor
Another large drop in calls with the removal of the machines
Not a similar increase with the new terminals
On the helpline Poker has been #1 since the ban on slot machines
Some other games have an increase in calls, but the increase is less than the previous number of slot machine related calls
Treatment services have the same experience
Research also shows positive signs related to problem gambling

– i.e there has been positive signs of a REDUCTION in problem gambling….not an increase!!!

Sue Pinkerton said...

From the same research...

Slot machine playing and mental problems

Slot-machine play

No Yes

Sleep disorders 27.8 30.6
Feeling of depression 17.5 21.1
Suicidal ideations 1.3 3.6*
Anxiety 6.8 11.0* Obsession/compulsion 1.3 5.4*
Alcohol/substance abuse 1.1 9.2*
None of the above 61.7 57.2*
*Statistical significant (Chi-square)

Global monthly limit (NOK 2 200) stopped gambling for
16% - 1 of 3 monthly limits in the quarter
5% - 2 of 3 monthly limits in the quarter
3% - 3 of 3 monthly limits in the quarter
2 % of gambling sessions stopped with the mandatory break (after 1 hour continuous play)
NB only 0.2 – 0.9% have set stricter personal limits for time or money spent
Also note, only 4% more gamblers have mental health issues compared with their non gambling counterpart.

Sue Pinkerton said...

Sorry...only 5.5% more gamblers have mental health issues compared with their non gambling counterpart.

Anonymous said...

Sue

I was talking about the CPGI measured prevalence rates in the adult population not helpline calls.

You'd be hard pressed to argue helpline stats are a better indication of problem gambling than a prevalence study.


The SINTEF study is exploratory since it is a self-selecting sample involving only 22 problem gamblers. It cannnot be generalised to the population at all unlike the prevalence studies.

The other stats relate to gamblers in general not problem gamblers so have no bearing on the argument whether the ban increased the number of problem gamblers.

Also is doesn't surprise me that only 5.5% of slot machine players have more mental health issues than non-gamblers. It shows that playing slot machines does not significantly increase the risk of mental health problems.

However I bet if you looked at the percentage of problem gamblers with mental health problems that would be a different story altogether.