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Mandatory pre-commitment schemes (pokies) - November 4th 2011, 10:36 AM

I'm not sure how far this will go because there aren't that many Australians on TH, but this discussion doesn't have to be about this specific instance, but just the idea of pre-commitment schemes of pokies (slot machines, poker machines) in general. Also the question of how much power independents should have.

I'll give you a very brief, very basic run down of the issue. In Australia, we currently have a minority government. The election was extremely close between the two major parties, and 4 indepenent politicians and 1 Greens politician were elected to parliament. 3 of those independents and Greens MP Adam Bandt agreed to support the government in power, but that also means the Government has to make the independents (and Greens) happy.

So basically there is this MP (from my own electorate as it happens) Andrew Wilkie (currently being helped in this issue by Nick Xenephon, an SA independent senatator). He agreed to support the government on a few conditions, such as an increase in funding to our states major hospital. More prominently, however, is the mandatory pre-commitment schemes for pubs and clubs, which basically means that pokie players will have to let limits on their spending before they go to the venues, and once that limit has been reached they will be 'locked out', unable to play or go to a different venue (because the cards which you will need to use these machines will be unable to work- not the machines themselves). These do not apply to $1 machines.


So what is your opinion?

There has been much critisism, particularly because players will be able to set their own limits. Living with a problem gambler, however, I can pretty much say with certainty that gambling addicts don't get their pay check and make a consious decision to go and blow their weeks wages in a couple of hours. It happened when they start to lose and think they can afford to play just 'a little bit more'. I think it would be reasonably effective because addicts would mostly set reasonable limits, however, with schemes like this there are always ways to get around it.

The clubs oppose this, because of the revenue loss, but personally I have trouble feeling for the loss of income that's going to come as a result of addicts not destroying their lives. Yes, I definitely can empathise with smaller clubs and regional clubs but from what I see the opposition is coming from massive clubs with hundreds of pokie machines. It also makes me angry that the football clubs and spokepeople of them have gotten behind this opposition, because I feel like that's a pretty illogical connection (between football and slot machines) and they're trying to act like they're stepping in because it's their 'civic duty' and not because so many big wigs within the AFL have a piece of the pokie pie.

So how do you feel about it? Support it? Oppose it? Think it could be done better?

My second question is, should an independent have this much power? Now, clearly I support this move, and I happen to think Andrew Wilkie is one of our countries best politicians. I supported him for a long time before he got into power and would have voted for him myself if I had not been 17 at the last election. However, given my support, I think I'm blinded by this issue.

Our electorate is fairly small, given we're the smallest state anyway, so should a politician who was voted to power by a few thousand people really have the power to implement policies and, as some who oppose the schemes have put it, 'hold the government to ransom'? In this instance I'm glad something is finally getting done about pokie addictions, and I have to say that just because we're small in Denison we're JUST as important as bigger electorates in Sydney or Melbourne. However.... I do wonder how I'd feel if some extreme right wing poli got in and starting trying to implement things I didn't support.


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Re: Mandatory pre-commitment schemes (pokies) - November 4th 2011, 11:05 AM

Well, I like the idea of setting limits for gamblers. My grandmother also has/had a gambling problem, specifically with pokie machines. Having to set a limit would have helped her immensely and I don't think that her addiction would have got as bad as it did if limits were set in place. However, I don't think it makes sense for players to be able to set their own limits because like you said, gambling addicts would find a way around it (and it doesn't sound like there would be anything to stop them from changing their limit?) It might be an idea that they have to have their limit co-signed by someone else (like a family member), and they need that person to verify if they want to change their limit?


On the independent issue... well, is it really much different from one party having all the power? If the ALP was completely in control, then Julia Gillard could essentially do whatever she pleased. She has shown with the issue of gay marriage that she doesn't care or have to care what a large number of ALP members support. I don't think having independents in control makes much of a difference from how government is normally run.

That being said, I do agree that I would be worried if an extreme right-wing politician was in Andrew Wilkie's position (or any of the independents). However, I think it is unlikely that an extreme right-wing politician would ever run or be voted in as an independent; they would most likely be on either of the major parties.



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Re: Mandatory pre-commitment schemes (pokies) - November 4th 2011, 04:06 PM

I'm not from Australia, but I thought I'd add my opinion. I'm the great-niece of an ex-gambling addict. While I'm not very close to this particular family member, although I see him quite often, it was difficult to see since the economy was starting to get really bad around this time, and my uncle was wasting away all of his earnings (Doing small jobs on the side, working on cars). I think having a set limit for gamblers could potentially help people overcome their gambling addictions, and help prevent gambling addictions as a whole. Do I suspect some people will be very upset about this? Of course. Especially if they're addicts. However, I agree with the above. Having the players set their own limits instead of someone setting a limit for them doesn't make much sense. They're trying to accomplish something, yet they're letting the gamblers set their own limits. I guess my question would be: Is their a minimum and maximum number on these limits? Like, the lowest you could have is $5 and the highest, say, $100? That might have been more beneficial to them if they had set a minimum and maximum on what the gamblers could do, if they haven't already done so.











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Re: Mandatory pre-commitment schemes (pokies) - November 5th 2011, 12:35 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by ShimmeringFaerie View Post
It might be an idea that they have to have their limit co-signed by someone else (like a family member), and they need that person to verify if they want to change their limit?
I think that's a good idea in theory, but I also think people would still be able to get away with it. Addicts would probably just find family members who didn't care/would let them 'get away with it'. I know for one if I was asked to sign even though I'd want the best for them, and want them to stop gambling, I'd probably just sign to avoid conflict.

However I think any scheme that we/the government could come up with won't be fool proof. People will always find a way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ShimmeringFaerie View Post
On the independent issue... well, is it really much different from one party having all the power? If the ALP was completely in control, then Julia Gillard could essentially do whatever she pleased. She has shown with the issue of gay marriage that she doesn't care or have to care what a large number of ALP members support. I don't think having independents in control makes much of a difference from how government is normally run.
Well I think the difference is an independent comes from just one seat where a fed government needs 75+ seats. So obviously there must be a larger support for the government than the independent. However I do agree, I actually like that the government doesn't have complete control, both in the house of reps and with the Greens in the senate. I like that issues like this one, and climate change, and as you said, gay marriage, are finally getting a little attention. I think it's good for democracy. But I do think there is a big difference between minority and majority government. Even just on a small scale. In this electorate, we never got any attention from the government because we were always a safe Labor seat. Voting in an independent has actually got stuff done because people are actually paying attention.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ShimmeringFaerie View Post
That being said, I do agree that I would be worried if an extreme right-wing politician was in Andrew Wilkie's position (or any of the independents). However, I think it is unlikely that an extreme right-wing politician would ever run or be voted in as an independent; they would most likely be on either of the major parties.
I said 'extreme right wing' simply because it's the complete opposite of my values, but what I meant was that I don't know how I'd feel if a poli in Wilkie's position was advocating something I didn't support, if I'd feel like independents have 'too much power'.


To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never, to forget

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