Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Tackling problem gambling

Joint Media Release with:

  • Bill Shorten MP, Assistant Treasurer
    Andrew Wilkie MP, Member for Denison
    Senator Nick Xenophon, Senator for South Australia

The Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, the Assistant Treasurer, Bill Shorten, the Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, and Senator Nick Xenophon held discussions today to progress reform on problem gambling, including the implementation of pre-commitment technology for poker machines by 2014.

Ms Macklin, Mr Shorten, Mr Wilkie and Senator Xenophon committed to working in close partnership, and in consultation with state and territory governments, industry and the community sector to tackle problem gambling including implementing pre-commitment technology, ATM withdrawal limits in venues with poker machines (excluding casinos) and poker machine dynamic warning and cost of play displays.

The 2010 Productivity Commission Report into Gambling found that a pre-commitment scheme is a strong, practicable and ultimately cost-effective option to minimise harm caused by gambling.

As a first step, Ms Macklin, Mr Shorten, Mr Wilkie and Senator Xenophon announced the establishment of a Ministerial Expert Advisory Group on Gambling.

The group will provide advice from their members and interested parties to the Government and the Joint Select Parliamentary Committee on Gambling on the implementation of the reforms.

The Government has invited Professor Peter Shergold AM to Chair the Expert Advisory Group. Professor Shergold leads the Centre for Social Impact at the University of New South Wales and is a former Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

The Gillard Government will consult closely with key interest groups on the membership of the Expert Advisory Group.

The Expert Advisory Group will include representatives from:

  • organisations who provide problem gambling counselling and support services;
  • technical experts, for example, gaming machine software specialists and ATM operators;
  • clubs, hotels, casinos and gaming machine manufacturers; and
  • researchers and academics who specialise in understanding problem gambling behaviour and harm minimisation measures.

Ms Macklin, Mr Shorten, Mr Wilkie and Senator Xenophon also discussed arrangements for the Parliamentary Joint Select Committee that was part of the agreement between the Prime Minister and Mr Wilkie earlier this month.

This new committee will provide advice to Ms Macklin, Mr Shorten and the Prime Minister on a full response to the recommendations in the 2010 Productivity Commission Report into Gambling. The committee will also provide input into the position the Australian Government will take to the COAG Select Council on Gambling.

It is expected that a resolution to establish the Parliamentary committee will be put to the Parliament in the first sitting week.

The Productivity Commission estimates that there are between 80,000 and 160,000 problem gamblers. In addition there are between 230,000 and 350,000 people at moderate risk.

Problem gambling destroys lives – not only the life of the problem gambler but also the lives of their families and friends.

The Gillard Government has committed to work with the states and territories to implement: a best practice pre-commitment scheme uniform across all states and territories by 2014 consistent with the recommendations made by the Productivity Commission; poker machine dynamic warning displays and cost of play displays and a $250 daily withdrawal limit for ATMs in venues with poker machines (excluding casinos).