Clubs will fight pokies changes
SOUTH Tweed Sports Club would not survive if the Federal Government succeeded in its bid to use technology to force gamblers to commit to limits on their losses, according to the club’s chairman.
Under the proposed “mandatory pre-commitment” legislation, put forward by Tasmanian independent MP Andrew Wilkie, gamblers would set a limit on how much money they could lose in one session.
“We’d try but I don’t see us surviving,” club chairman Charles Thygesen said.
“We couldn’t afford the implementation.”
Mr Thygesen met ClubsNSW chairman Peter Newell and more than 70 club representatives from across NSW at the South Tweed Sports Club yesterday to discuss the new legislation.
The meeting heard the cost of implementing the proposed legislation could be $73 million for NSW alone.
“The costs of introducing the technology would put most clubs out of business,” Mr Thygesen said.
“Jobs would be lost and so would the contributions that clubs make to the community.
“The problem gamblers will always find a way around any technology introduced – it’s not going to solve the problem,” he said.
Mr Thygesen believed the time limit in place was also unrealistic.
“Prime Minister Gillard and Tasmanian Independent Andrew Wilkie made a deal before the last election to implement full pre-commitment technology by 2014,” he said.
“They would have to link all machines across NSW, Queensland and South Australia and as yet there is no technology to achieve that.”
ClubsNSW chairman Peter Newell believed there were other solutions.
“A better solution would be a voluntary system. Studies have shown that this can empower problem gamblers without punishing recreational gamblers,” Mr Newell said.
Mr Newell will launch an official campaign against Mr Wilkie’s proposal at the National Press Club dinner in Canberra on Wednesday March 23.
Pre-commitment technology allows gamblers to nominate a limit before they play, loaded on a USB or card.
Norway is the only country with mandatory pre-commitment.
Many machines would need to be replaced as their software is incompatible. New machines cost around $25,000 each.