Aussie Pokie Reforms Under Fire for Not Going Far Enough
A new set of reforms on Pokies in New South Wales is under fire for not going far enough and leaving certain, at-risk, communities vulnerable to the impact of problem gambling. It’s just the latest volley in the ongoing effort to control Australia’s controversial slot machines at a regulatory level.
At the core of the most recent controversy is an effort by the New South Wales (NSW) Government to put a cap on the number of pokies in the state. This includes geographic limits that will prevent new machines from going into neighborhoods that are deemed to be at-risk for problem gambling. In particular, lawmakers are focused on the Fairfield neighborhood which houses a very large immigrant community.
Under the proposed reforms, the number of pokies in a certain area would be frozen at current levels. Though anti-gambling reformers say that’s not enough, NSW Minister for Racing Paul Toole is very pleased with the effort and described them in an interview with SBS News as, “…the most significant changes to gambling regulation in NSW for a decade.” He went on to say that, “These reforms follow extensive consultation and represent a reset of the way gambling is regulated in NSW.”
Despite Toole’s enthusiasm, anti-gambling forces such as the Alliance for Gambling Reform point out that capping pokies at their current levels is simply not enough. They point out that areas such as Fairfield already house more pokies than the rest of Tasmania combined.
In short, the Aussie battle over pokies is still a long way from coming to any sort of resolution.