Kelly in the Media

A Maximum Bet Limit of $5 on Poker Machines has been Agreed on in Parliament

A MAXIMUM bet limit of $5 on poker machines has been agreed on following a hastily convened meeting between Attorney-General John Rau and MPs debating gambling… reforms.

Earlier today, Mr Rau described negotiations over government gambling reforms in State Parliament’s Upper House as a “dog’s breakfast” and called an urgent meeting to try to reach agreement.

Key elements of the State Government’s gambling legislation, including maximum bet limits and caps on poker machine numbers, had been defeated during debate on proposed changes.

In particular, Mr Rau criticised Liberal MP Rob Lucas for introducing amendments that removed a proposed $5 bet limit on poker machines.

“What he has done is completely strip all of the provisions that aim to assist problem gamblers,” Mr Rau told ABC radio this morning.

“They even stripped out … the idea that there should be a maximum bet.”

Upper House MPs Including the Greens’ Tammy Franks, Family First’s Robert Brokenshire, Dignity for Disability’s Kelly Vincent and Independent John Darley met with Mr Rau, as well as Lower House Liberal MP and Opposition spokesman on the issue Iain Evans.

The agreement was reached to vote again to approve a $5 maximum bet limit.

Debate is continuing in the Upper House.

The legislation is now expected to pass today.

In April, the Government announced proposals to create two classes of gaming venues – large venues with up to 60 machines or small venues with less than 20 machines.

It also set out measures to tackle problem gambling, including limiting maximum bets to $5 (down from $10), fast-tracking voluntary precommitment and on-screen message technology.

However, none of these changes were approved during debate on the Bill on Tuesday night.

Instead, amendments by Liberal, Greens and independent MPs saw the measures removed or watered down, including retaining current arrangements limiting all gaming venues, except the casino, to 40 poker machines.

The Liberals proposed keeping the $10 bet limit while Independent MP John Darley called for a $1 limit.

However these and the Government’s proposed $5 limit were all rejected.

Mr Rau said the changes had “left the legislation in such a shambles (that) there is no maximum bet”.

Amendments by Liberal MP Rob Lucas successfully delayed the introduction of mandatory precommitment technology, on-screen messaging and automated risk monitoring for poker machines in line with federal timelines.

Other changes include agreement to:

DISALLOW poker machines in SA which would allow players to plug in earphones and block out background noise.

BAN gaming in areas of a casino complex where smoking was allowed, such as outdoor atriums or beer gardens.

WITHDRAWAL limits of $200 per card, per day on EFTPOS facilities and $250 per card, per day for ATMs in gaming venues – in line with federal regulations.

REMOVE gag clauses in government contracts that require advocacy groups receiving government funding to seek the permission of the Government before doing publicity.

“It was a situation where groups like Pokies Anonymous couldn’t even pay their phone bill because their funding was conditional on them effectively being gagged,” Ms Franks said.

“These organisations need to be able to advocate for their constituents; these are the consumer groups that work with problem gamblers and are best placed to provide these insights.

“This will help to even up a debate that has too often favoured the big end of town.”