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Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Problem Gambling Support Centre welcomed but States and Territories need to lift their game

The launch of a Problem Gambling Support Centre in south west Sydney by the Salvation Army and the Fairfield RSL Club, is a positive initiative towards addressing the negative social and economic costs of problem gambling on individuals, families and communities, the Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, said today.

‘This initiative highlights the unlimited potential for the industry and community sectors to form partnerships to address issues in the community such as problem gambling.

‘The Centre will provide counsellors, psychologists, social workers, education services and ongoing support for up to 1,000 problem gamblers and their families in its first year.

‘This initiative supports my views expressed publicly over the last few weeks that tackling problem gambling should be a coordinated approach with industry, schools, health professionals and community groups to help prevent and address its devastating impacts.

‘Professor Bo Bernhad, the co-founder of the highly successful Problem Gambling Centre in Las Vegas USA, also endorsed my approach by stating today that the key to addressing problem gambling was through early intervention and education of young people to help them better understand the risks of gambling,’ Senator Patterson said.

Senator Patterson warned, however, that the new Centre in Sydney’s south west also underlined the urgent need by the state and territory governments to do more with their substantial gambling revenue tax windfall.

‘NSW has the largest number of poker machines in Australia, with NSW gamblers spending around $5.7 billion per annum on gambling activities.

‘However, the latest figures show the NSW Government has budgeted to allocate less than 1 per cent of the estimated $1.4 billion it collects from gambling taxes on problem gambling services, ‘ said Senator Patterson.

‘The establishment of the Centre through the formation of a community and industry sector partnership is a great first step.

‘Hopefully it will provide the impetus for all state and territory governments to recognise their responsibility and spend more than 0.5 per cent of the $4 billion gambling tax windfall they receive each year on problem gambling support services.’