William West

Greens release policy for poker machine reform

QUEENSLAND gamblers are spending more on poker machines each year, with totals topping $2 billion for the past 12 months for the first time since 2009.

The new figures surfaced as the Greens released their policy for poker machine reform.

The scale of cash flowing into the pokies was revealed by APN on Thursday, as some regional towns were found to be spending the equivalent of $600 a year for every man, woman and child.

New data from the Office of Liquor and Gaming shows a peak in spending for the 2008-09 financial year at $2.05 billion, then falling to $1.9 billion the following year.

The spending then steadily increases to 2012-13 with Queenslanders pouring $2 billion into the state's 42,947 machines.

On Friday, the Greens unveiled a suite of guidelines to help protect gambling addicts.

They include a maximum bet limit of $1 per spin, jackpots limited to $500, maximum "topping up" of $20 and a staged introduction stretching until 2017.

Greens Senator Christine Milne said the policy would curb the amount lost by problem gamblers, and the problems often follow.

Queensland gamblers pour fewer dollars into poker machines than the national average.

National gambling figures per person sit at $599 a year on pokies while the Queensland Government estimates the state average at $523.

Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said although less than 1% of poker machine players in Queensland were considered "problem gamblers", the state spent $4.9 million on responsible gaming schemes.

"The majority of Queenslanders enjoy a harmless flutter, but we need to help the people who take it too far," Mr Bleijie said.

It includes running government campaigns and helping to fund groups including Lifeline, Centacare, Relationships Australia and the Alcohol and Drug Foundation to help tackle the issue.

On top of this, a portion of money spent on poker machines - $47.21 million or less than 3% - was shared between 2405 community groups in the past year.

For those struggling with gambling addiction, telephone the Gambling Help Line on 1800 858 858.



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