For the past year, MP Andrew Wilkie has fought the federal government over poker machine reform. He has insisted that the Julie Gillard pass a number of reforms that would help to curb problem gambling rates. It has been a tug-of-war over the specifics of the reform legislation, but Wilkie has finally won the battle.
The Australian government has finally agreed to impose a number of gambling reforms across the country. The final push in the right direction was the decision by The Greens to support voluntary pre-commitment technology. Previously, the political group was holding back the legislation’s progress by pushing for $1 betting limits while the Gillard government wanted unanimous support for voluntary pre-commitment before proceeding.
The Greens finally agreed to support voluntary pre-commitment thanks to a clever compromise. The group will support the reform in exchange for the establishment of a research institute that will examine the efficacy of $1 betting limits.
The reform will see all poker machines in Australia outfitted with voluntary pre-commitment software by the year 2016. This is a step up from the government’s previously plans to simply trial the technology in the ACT. Additionally, all gambling venue ATMs will be forced to impose a $250 withdrawal limit.
Some responsible gambling advocates believe that the reform is unlikely to make an impact. However, Wilkie views the progress as a victory, demonstrating that the federal government is dedicated to curbing problem gambling rates.