When UK lawmakers made good on their promises to regulate the maximum wager on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) last week, they set forth a precedent that Australian MP Andrew Wilkie would like to follow. Earlier this week, the anti-gambling MP advocated the institution of severe stake limits on Aussie FOBTs, aka Pokies.
Wilkie’s move, however, would actually go a bit further than what his UK counterparts introduced. He’d like to see the maximum stake on an FOBT wager limited to a mere $1 AUD ($.85 USD). That’s exactly half of the £2 ($2.69 USD) maximum that’s going to be implemented on UK operators this October.
While FOBT stake minimums are already impacting UK gambling operators in the form of falling stock prices, the story could play out a bit differently in Australia. After all, in Australia many FOBTs are owned by small business owners. As we’ve learned from the battle between digital lottery operators and the Australian news agents, small business owners have a fair amount of pull in Australia.
Regardless, Wilkie is dead set on pursuing the stake limits saying:
The Federal Government has it within its power to legislate for $1 maximum bets, as well as other harm minimisation measures like mandatory pre-commitment,. Unfortunately, the Government has shown itself to be thoroughly uninterested when it comes to reining in poker machines. And no wonder, when you look at the enormous donations both major parties receive from the gambling industry.
Not surprisingly, Wilkie got plenty of support from fellow anti-gambling advocate Tom Costello, who compared the Australian government’s willingness to protect pokie operators to the American government’s willingness to protect gun manufacturers.
So far, Wilkie hasn’t offered up any legislation to support his stance and industry watchers should expect a real fight if FOBT stake limits are introduced to the Australian market.