Thursday, 9 February 2023


Gambling harm

Katherine COPSEY

Gambling harm

Katherine COPSEY (Southern Metropolitan) (17:25): (26) My adjournment tonight is for the Minister for Casino, Gaming and Liquor Regulation, and my ask is that she introduces mandatory precommitment and cashless gaming across all poker machines in Victoria. Poker machines are deliberately designed to be addictive. They are disproportionately located in already stressed communities where residents experience the highest losses and the highest rates of gambling harm. Since they were introduced into this state in 1991, regrettably, Victorians have lost more than $66 billion on the poker machines. In the last 30 years successive governments have completely failed to introduce any meaningful statewide reform of the industry, letting Victorians lose record amounts at the poker machines year on year and allowing the gambling industry to expand its power in this state, which is already too significant.

But in the last two years we have begun to see signs of change, which is very welcome. The landmark Royal Commission into the Casino Operator and Licence was scathing of Crown’s behaviour and its failure to keep patrons safe from gambling harm, and in response this government has actually embarked on a reform program at the casino, including the introduction of carded gaming and mandatory precommitment at the casino from 1 December 2025. But they have been noticeably silent on wider pokies reform, and given that the vast majority of the state’s poker machines are located outside of the casino and in our communities, out in clubs and hotels, the government’s reform is barely scratching the surface and doing little when it could be doing a lot more to tackle gambling harm.

And now we are being shown up by the rest of the country. Both Tasmania and New South Wales have announced plans to introduce mandatory cashless gaming on all poker machines in their states, and although in New South Wales there is a bit of a law and order agenda and it is about tackling money laundering, a well-designed mandatory cashless gaming card scheme also has the potential to significantly reduce gambling harm, because cashless cards can be implemented alongside a series of evidence-based harm minimisation measures – and they need to be. For example, the cards can set maximum daily limits on how much can be spent and lost on any one day, they can require users to preset their own limits on losses or playtime and they can limit how much money can be loaded onto a card at any one time.

This kind of mandatory precommitment and these kinds of limits on losses would be a game changer for reducing gambling harm in our state. It is the ambitious poker machine reform that the Victorian Labor government should be embracing, so it is disappointing that in Victoria we are limiting our reforms to the casino and that the government has so far not embraced the possibility of extending these reforms to all poker machines in the state. It is hard not to wonder if their silence on wider poker machine reform has something to do with their close ties to the gambling industry. I think Victoria can do this as well as Tasmania and New South Wales, and I ask the minister to introduce mandatory precommitment and cashless gaming across all poker machines in Victoria.