The Uk has just taken a major step forward in reducing maximum bet sizes from 100 GPD to 2 GPD on their most voracious gambling products -Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBT). Their growth on every street corner in the UK is similar to the embedding of our pokies in the community. Australians have been calling for a $1 maximum bet limit on pokies since the 1990’s (refer Productivity Commission Report 2010) surely it’s time our government started to listen.
The evidence has been in for a long time (Productivity Commission reports 1999 & 2010) that Australian Gaming Machines are the major contributors to gambling harms. Design features including ‘Losses Disguised as Wins’ ‘Near Misses’ and ‘Free Spins’ along with visual and auditory stimulation are some of the specific strategies used in to entangle the human psyche into a intra-relationship with this gambling product . The goal being to extend ‘time on machine’ and enable ‘playing to extinction’. Natasha Dow-Schull’s book “Addiction by Design, 2012 summaries 20 years of her research into this relationship, and operators, manufacturer and designer’s goals. Combined with the documentary Ka-Ching:Pokie Nation which exposes these tactics further, along with a significant body of academic research, there is no doubt that Australia is in dire need of gambling product reforms to address the 4.7 billion dollars costs of harms every year.
So it’s not just in cricket that the poms are beating us -it’s we time stood up and hit back for poker machine reform.
(Kate Roberts – GIS Executive Officer)