A new gambling agreement forged between Clubs NSW and New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian would see family members given the right to have loved ones banned from “pokie” rooms and casinos upon their request, as gambling reform groups continue to discuss what they are calling a gambling epidemic in Australia.
In the past, individuals had to manage themselves, asking a gaming venue to ban them on their own accord. Under the new agreement between Clubs NSW and the New South Wales premier, loved ones will have the ability to request a family member be assessed by a venue for a gambling problem.
Within the new agreement, a third-party exclusion plan would give family members the power to report a loved one to a club if they believe they have a gambling problem. The individual would be able to report the problem anonymously so that the gambler can be assessed, and treated if they are found to have a problem.
If a gambling problem is found, the individual would then be banned from the club that carried out the assessment. Executive manager of public affairs for Clubs NSW, Josh Landis said: “We can help further reduce the rate of problem gambling… and through the assistance of an expert panel we can assess whether people really do have a problem. If they do, we’ll get them out of the club.”
According to Landis, this type of third-party exclusion has been called upon by the clubs since 2008. However, issues with ethics and legalities played a role in the length of time it took to create a plan of action.
The process has to be handled with care as family members who nominate loved ones might be at risk. The anonymity factor is being provided as a way to allow family members to step forward without harm coming to them from their family member.
Landis gave as an example a wife who nominates her husband for assessment for problem gambling, with her possibly being at risk of domestic violence. With the careful management of the system, the wife can alert a club about her husband’s behavior without him knowing it was her.
According to Landis, Clubs NSW is working with the government to ensure that the law can be changed to protect people in such situations, providing an avenue for help without the risk of backlash from the gambler.
The new agreement would also see additional precautions put in place to stop the growing rate of problem gambling in Australia. This would include training employees in new ways, helping them to learn how to identify red flags associated with problem gambling.
A limit of $5,000 cash placed in machines at one time would also be enforced. Currently, the limit is set at $7,500. The government has promised that if it is re-elected in March, it would not raise gambling taxes and operators would have the ability to explore new technologies in the industry.
Lobby groups are not happy with the memorandum, stating that it is just another example as to how the government is catering to the gambling authorities. The Alliance for Gambling Reform has criticised the memorandum, stating that it is not a good thing and would stop pokie reform for another five years.
A different approach
Gambling has been an issue for quite some time in Australia, with changes involving several avenues of the industry under discussion. Just recently, discussions on a different approach to handling certain aspects of the industry took place during Gambling Harm Awareness Week.
Children’s services manager, Tracie McPherson, of Bethany Community Support in Victoria, Australia, discussed how a different approach needs to be made to deal with gambling issues.
According to VSO News, McPherson stated that gambling during sporting events as well as smartphone wagering needs to be discussed. With smartphones, gamblers have access to gaming 24/7 and this new technology means a different approach must be taken to deal with problem gambling.
Earlier in the year, gambling ads were banned from live sporting events on Australian TV as a measure to further protect children and young people from the potentially harmful influence that such ads could have. The ban starts five minutes before a live event and remains until five minutes after.
Overall, the goal in Australia seems to be to create additional precautions to avoid gambling harm. However, such moves remain contentious as there will always be groups who are against changes or those who want to see more done regarding how gambling functions in the region.