Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Treasury advice busts myths about pre-commitment technology

Joint Media Release with:

  • Bill Shorten MP, Assistant Treasurer, Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation

The Australian Government’s plans to make pre-commitment technology available on all poker machines across the country will not lead to widespread closures of clubs, mass job losses or a reduction in community support, according to Treasury advice.

Treasury also found that trials of pre-commitment have shown that it is effective in encouraging better money management and more informed decision making, particularly among problem gamblers.

The Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, said the Treasury had carefully examined industry claims and found many are unfounded.

“The truth is that making pre-commitment technology available on poker machines will have a range of social and economic benefits in our suburbs and regional towns,” Ms Macklin said.

“Pre-commitment gives pokie players a tool to help them think about how much they are willing to lose, to let them set their own limits and stick to them.

“Trials have shown that pre-commitment is effective in reducing the amount that problem gamblers spend, while recreational gamblers can still enjoy a night out at their local club or pub.”

Treasury has found that clubs receive significant tax concessions from the Australian Government and state and territory governments worth hundreds of millions of dollars a year to allow them to make contributions to community organisations.

Assistant Treasurer Bill Shorten said clubs play an important role in our local communities as employers, supporters of sporting and community groups and as a place to get together with friends.

“Of course the Government wants to see local clubs flourish, but this shouldn’t be at the expense of pokie addicts,” Mr Shorten said.

“In communities across Australia, families are being destroyed by pokie addiction. We know that problem gamblers spend $21,000 each on average every year on the pokies – money that isn’t being spent on food for the kids or paying off the family mortgage.”

Ms Macklin said Treasury had found that implementing pre-commitment technology will have a minimal overall impact on employment across Australia. Treasury also found that clubs have time to change their business models if they rely on profits from problem gamblers.

“It’s not sustainable for businesses to rely on the profits from problem gamblers. To make sure our clubs are strong into the future, we need to be looking at new ways to bring people in – for a meal, to catch up with friends over a drink and to play the pokies in a responsible way,” Ms Macklin said.

“This Labor Government is committed to supporting jobs. We know that the hospitality sector is a major employer right across the country – not just in the city, but in almost every regional and rural town.”

Mr Shorten said the Government had listened to industry’s concerns and made sure that small clubs have extra time to get ready for pre-commitment.

“Small venues with 15 poker machines or less will have an extra four years – to 2018 – to implement the changes. This means about 80 per cent of venues in regional New South Wales will have seven years to get ready,” Mr Shorten said.

Treasury found that there is no evidence to support the industry’s claim that pre-commitment will lead to increased betting online instead of in their local club.

The Australian Government will continue to work with clubs to implement full pre-commitment.

“These reforms aren’t about hurting clubs. They are about helping the millions of Australians who are affected by problem gambling. Clubs that do not rely on revenue from problem gamblers will not be significantly affected,” Ms Macklin said.