Families Australia: submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs regarding the poker machine harm reduction tax (administration) Bill 2008

(This is an extract of the full submission. Please contact Families Australia to request a copy of the full version)

Summary

Problem gambling is highly toxic to the wellbeing of individuals and families. Given the extraordinarily high correlation between poker machine usage and problem gambling, it is vitally important that poker machines be removed completely from clubs and other gaming venues as soon as possible. A tax on poker machines, as proposed in the Bill, is strongly supported, but must be seen only as an initial step toward this goal.

In addition to the measures proposed in the Bill, Families Australia urges the Federal Government to provide greater support for programs which tackle the underlying causes of problem gambling, including through public awareness raising activities about the magnitude of the problem, especially as it affects family relationships and children.

Greater consistency between national strategies and more emphasis on effective early intervention responses that tackle co-occurring problems, such as problem gambling and substance abuse, are required.

Recommendations

  • That the Federal Government reduce the number of poker machines in Australia and limit access to them by restricting them to casinos
  • That there is a campaign put in place to create greater awareness of poker machine gambling addiction and the impacts that it has on families in particular. This can be done through more TV advertisements with victims telling their stories similar to the recent drink driving advertisements.
  • That there is greater awareness about the support that is currently offered for families going through gambling issues and there is creation of more support facilities in NSW.
  • That the Poker Machine Harm Reduction Tax (Administration) Bill 2008 is enacted by the Federal Government as soon as possible.
  • That there is genuine consideration for an immediate ban on poker machines, removing permission to have them from licenses covering pubs and clubs.
  • That the Federal Government publicly acknowledges that gambling has become a major public health issue and that they need to respond to it in a similar way they have for other issues such as alcohol abuse.
  • That a national anti-gambling campaign is developed to show society the health effects of problem gambling.

That there is a development of preventative strategies by the Federal Government in accordance with minimization and treatment of related problems.

 

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Poker machine harm reduction tax (June 2008)