ACT Greens welcome problem gambling fund increase and push for people before pokies

The ACT Greens welcome the increase to the Problem Gambling Assistance Fund (PGAF) levy from 0.6% to 0.75% as part of the Justice and Community Safety Legislation Amendment Bill tabled today, while calling for further harm reduction measures to put the Canberra community ahead of poker machine revenue.

“We are pleased the commitment secured by the Greens in the Labor-Greens Parliamentary Agreement will lead to approximately $250,000 for additional research in relation to gambling harm and to support local groups to address problem gambling in our community,” said Caroline Le Couteur MLA, ACT Greens Member for Murrumbidgee. “This includes support for the ANU Centre for Gambling Research, as well as providing grants to local community programs and campaigns such as the ‘At Odds’ campaign by the Youth Coalition of the ACT.

“Clubs are increasingly reliant on revenue that causes social, financial and health-related harms to Canberrans who struggle with problem gambling. The Greens believe that a business model that relies on revenue from problem gambling is a broken business model, and we are committed to supporting clubs and our community to move away from reliance on poker machine revenue.

“While I welcome the PGAF increase, there are many more harm minimisation measures that must be in place to truly put people before pokies. Canberra currently has more pokies per capita than any other state or territory, and the damage they are inflicting upon families and our community is real.”

Total poker machine expenditure in the ACT in 2014-15 was $167.45 million. The ANU Centre for Gambling Reform found that people who reported any level of problem gambling accounted for 64% of losses on poker machines, which is further evidence that pokies negatively impact on our most vulnerable. This means that that $78.23M of the ACT’s poker machine revenue comes from people who have an issue with problem gambling.

“The ACT Greens have also secured the Labor party’s commitment to a 20% reduction in poker machine licences by July 2020, and the Greens are pushing for the introduction of $1 maximum bets and a mandatory pre-commitment scheme as recommended by the Productivity Commission” Ms Le Couteur added.