Poker machine reform has finally passed in Australia, as the local government has finally decided to take a stand against rising gambling addiction rates. The new legislation is the result of more than a year’s hard work by MP Andrew Wilkie to have pre-commitment software installed on all poker machines in the country.
While Wilkie is pleased with the legislation, there are many responsible gambling groups and advocates that are not impressed. When pokie reform was originally presented to the Gillard government, Wilkie wanted all poker machines to come equipped with mandatory pre-commitment software. Now, pokie reform will consist of a nation-wide rollout of voluntary pre-commitment technology. So, players will have the option of setting their own betting limits, rather than being forced to.
Additionally, the original deadline was set for 2016. By this year, all poker machine venues across Australia would be required to outfit their games with the necessary software. However, Senate sided with club owners, who stated that they would not have the time nor the money to make this possible. As such, the deadline has been pushed to 2018.
Wilkie is convinced that the reform is a step in the right direction for the Australian government. It shows that politicians are serious about wanting to reduce problem gambling rates. Although the reform is not exactly what Wilkie had in mind, it does demonstrate that the Gillard government is willing to step in when problem gambling becomes an issue for local residents.