Efforts to ban pokies and other gambling devices from public spaces in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) have picked up steam with addition of a major, new supporter. The Northern Beaches Council, recently passed a measure that will greatly reduce the pokie profile in Sydney and is pressuring the Government of NSW to do the same. (The Northern Beaches Council is, essentially, the city government for the northern beach areas of Sydney.)
Just last week, a closely divided Northern Beaches Council put its stamp of approval on its most extreme anti-gambling bill to date. The new measures are designed to curb problem gambling and require pokie operators to do things like programming their machines so that they reduce the amount of time between pulls; and limit a player’s daily withdrawals from their ATM. They also imposed a rule that allows family members to place a loved one on a casino’s self-exclusion list.
The Northern Beach Council’s push against problem gambling was motivated by the recent death of a man named Gary Van Duinen. Van Duinen’s death by suicide was reportedly spurred by his gambling problem.
These new rules are pretty extreme, but Northern Beaches Councilor Pat Daley says they aren’t designed to harm pub owners. In a statement to the press she said, “This is a real milestone for local government. We want to work very closely with the pubs and clubs, not against them, and incorporated into this policy is ongoing consultation and regular meetings.”
Australia’s anti-gambling activists were inspired by the Northern Beach Council’s action and urged the entire state to follow its lead.