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Elliot hedges pokies bet

Guy Diven at the Murwillumbah Services Club supports a trial of the pokie reform.
Guy Diven at the Murwillumbah Services Club supports a trial of the pokie reform. John Gass

FEDERAL MP Justine Elliot has backed a trial of poker machine mandatory pre-commitment technology before it is rolled out in Australian clubs.

With political wrangling over the issue continuing in Canberra about mandatory pre-commitment on poker machines, in the Tweed proponents on both sides agree that a trial is the right response.

But the Federal Government is yet to agree to a trial before implementation and continues to negotiate with Tasmanian independent MP Andrew Wilkie.

Richmond MP Justine Elliot initially supported pre-commitment technology and was the target of a Clubs Australia campaign to stop the introduction of the technology.

The two opponents have made some middle ground in calling for a trial before any widespread implementation or change to the industry.

"Everyone agrees that more must be done to help pokie addicts and their families," Ms Elliot said

"I have been talking with many locals about how to address problem gambling.

"One of the biggest concerns that locals continue to raise with me is whether mandatory pre-commitment will work.

"Personally, I believe that we need a trial of mandatory pre-commitment to see if it is effective.

"I welcome the industry's willingness to work with the government on this issue."

Tweed clubs have indicated the campaigning would continue until there was clarity on the issue.

Murwillumbah Services Club chief executive officer Guy Diven said the meetings at Canberra over this issues illustrated that it was about politics and not good policy.

"I think we need a trial," Mr Diven said.

"Problem gambling is on the national radar and that's a good thing."

Mr Diven said politicians needed to understand what policies clubs had in place to help problem gamblers.

Seagulls operator, Club Norths' Luke Simmons said the club's policy was to exclude problem gamblers and help them with counselling services.

"It's about getting them to counsellors as soon as possible," Mr Simmons said.

"We need a trial before implementing it everywhere."

Mr Simmons said a large part of a club's revenue came from poker machines and many of the clubs were not in a financial position for drastic changes in revenue streams.

Tasmanian independent MP Andrew Wilkie wanted pre-commitment on poker machines and offered his support to the government if the government introduced the technology through legislation.

Rumours that any rollout would be delayed from 2014 to 2016 or dropped altogether, forced Mr Wilkie to reiterate his position on the issue.

"I welcome the industry's willingness to work with the government on this issue."

Topics:  betting, gambling, poker machines, pokies


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