Two-thirds respondents support Australia's gambling reforms: poll

12:13, April 14, 2011      

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A latest poll on Thursday showed two-thirds of Australian respondents supported the federal government's plan to introduce a mandatory pre-commitment system on poker machines.

Federal independent Member of Parliament (MP) Andrew Wilkie has proposed a poker machines law, and he wants the law in place by 2014.

To tackle the scourge of problem gambling, the ambitious new system will require poker machine players set their losses in advance using a card and technology that links every poker machine in the country.

However, Clubs Australia, the peak group representing pubs and hotels across the country, bankrolls a 21 million U.S. dollars campaign against the mandatory pre-commitment system, claiming the federal government's plan is un-Australian and will cost jobs.

The new poll conducted by Uniting Care Wesley Adelaide, which surveyed 1,411 Australians, showed 67 percent of respondents were in favor of the system.

The survey found women more in favor, with 69 percent of them backing compulsory poker machine betting limits. By comparison, 64 percent of men backed the idea.

According to Wesley Adelaide chief executive Simon Schrapel, the poll findings rebuked suggestions by Clubs Australia that pre- commitment technology would be "un-Australian".

"This is clearly a nonsense when more than two-thirds of Australians support the measures being considered by the federal government," he said in a statement released on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the poll also found Tasmanian independent Wilkie's plan to introduce pre-commitment technology on poker machines by 2014 was backed by 74 percent of people surveyed in his home state.

Voters in New South Wales and Queensland were less keen, with 64 percent of respondents in those states in favor.

Following the release of the poll, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the community is likely to support the reforms aimed at curbing problem gambling, because it is not an Australian value to profit from the misery of others.

"I don't think it's an Australian value ... to see profiting off other people's misery ... because they put too much money down poker machines," she told ABC Radio.

"If you can't afford to lose the amount you are going to bet, you can't afford to bet.

"Australians will be open to a system that manages fun with a system that helps people not get into trouble."

But independent Member of Parliament Tony Windsor, who is unlikely to back the plan, has warned the proposed reforms will come at the cost of country clubs.

The federal Opposition has also indicated it will oppose the gambling reforms.

Source: Xinhua
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