The Proposal


  • Following the 2010 election and the resulting hung parliament, Independent MP Andrew Wilkie offered his support for Julia Gillard conditional on draconian reforms for poker machine regulation.
  • The centrepiece of this regulation is mandatory pre-commitment.
  • Mandatory pre-commitment means that every poker machine player must show identification and register to obtain a card before they can play.On the card, players must decide what limit they wish to spend.They can set any limit, including no limit.
  • Under the Government’s proposal, once a player reaches the limit, the card will prevent further play on any poker machine anywhere in the country.
  • Prior to the election, the Government had agreed to work with industry in designing poker machine reforms, and all parties supported the introduction of voluntary pre-commitment.
  • Ms Gillard agreed to Mr Wilkie’s demands without consulting anyone.
  • Mr Wilkie has said repeatedly that if the Government does not pass legislation by May 2012, he will withdraw his support for the Gillard Government.

The Proposal Won’t Work

  • Problem gambling is an important issue that has been addressed by industry in partnership with state and territory governments effectively over many years.More can and should be done.
  • However, the Government’s Proposal will not help problem gamblers.
  • Mandatory pre-commitment has not been trialled anywhere in Australia.
  • No cost-benefit analysis has been done.The Government cannot tell us how many problem gamblers will be helped, because the proposal won’t work.It is being implemented to appease Mr Wilkie.
  • Problem gamblers will be the first people to obtain a card.They will be free to set dangerous, unaffordable limits, or choose to set no limit.
  • And even if they set a reasonable limit, once they reach it they are free to continue to spend money on other forms of gambling, including sports betting, casino games and internet gambling.
  • Internet gambling is particularly dangerous as it is unregulated, isolated, is available 24 hours a day, and allows betting on credit.

However, It Will Hurt

  • The cost to introduce this technology on all poker machines by Mr Wilkie’s timetable of 2014 has been estimated at $3 billion.Most venues will not be able to afford this.
  • Recreational gamblers will not bother to register for a card to play.The lost revenue from recreational gamblers will devastate clubs and pubs.
  • Many will have difficulties maintaining employees and servicing debt, and some will shut their doors.
  • The thousands of community groups, charities and sporting teams clubs and pubs support will also be affected.Current funding will be cut dramatically.
  • Small businesses and contractors that rely on clubs will also hurt.The impact of these reforms will reverberate in local communities.