Cosy deals between state governments and gambling operators have effectively eliminated poker machine reforms
The loosening of gambling regulations in New South Wales, announced during Responsible Gambling Awareness Week without an apparent trace of irony, tells the story of gambling regulation in Australia in the three years since Andrew Wilkie was rolled on poker machine reforms.
Among other reforms, poker machine smart cards in NSW clubs and hotels can now be loaded with up to $5,000, an increase from $200. This is a great deal of money to lose by anyone’s measure. To get a sense of just how out of step this government decision is with the available evidence, it’s worthwhile returning to the Productivity Commission’s 2010 report, which recommended that the “cash input level” for poker machines be capped at just $20, a limit the commission believed would protect problem gamblers while having little adverse impact on recreational gamblers.