Today's Daily Telegraph published a story that was substantively inaccurate. If the press considers it an obligation to report the facts, reporter Andrew Clennell has failed. Here's Mr Clennell's opening sentence under the headline of "Julia Gillard is gambling on failed poker machine limiting system".
"The poker machine restrictions on which Julia Gillard is staking her prime ministership have failed in the only country in the world to have introduced a mandatory pre-commitment spending limit."
The subject country is Norway. Let me make this perfectly clear.
There is no mandatory pre-commitment in Norway.
The Norwegian system to gamble on Video Lottery Terminals requires every gambler to have a card. From 10 February, 2011 gamblers could voluntarily choose to set a limit. Apologies for being pedantic but the facts are important. The only pre-commitment was implemented in 2011 and it was voluntary, not mandatory. It is still voluntary. It has never been mandatory. Norway has never introduced mandatory pre-commitment.
The survey was conducted in 2010. Not 2011. There was no system of pre-commitment either voluntary or mandatory in place at the time the survey was conducted.
What was in place was a different solution. The government imposed a spending cap. Converting the Norwegian limits to Australian dollars it is about $A70 per day or about $A380 per month.
Here's a quote from the Norwegian authority as to the results of the research on their system.
"[They] concluded that there appears to be a general decline in the proportion of Norwegians with a gaming problem, and that those with a moderate form of compulsive gaming have either ceased to play or developed a rather greater problem with their gaming."
Click on the image below you can make up your own mind whether you agree that Mr Clennell has corrupted the facts. It's where the quote comes from.
No one is proposing anything like the Norwegian system of a government imposed spending limit for Australia. This is not a word game. The Norwegian system is something quite different from the modest consumer protection measures proposed for Australia. Mr Clennell and those who fed him that information are misleading the public.