Australians are the world's most prolific gamblers. We spend a remarkable $1200 per capita every year on bets.
Of the $19 billion gambled by Australians every year, 60% (or $12 billion) goes into poker machines. About 4% of the adult population, or 600,000 people, play pokies at least weekly. Up to 15% of the people who gamble weekly are considered "problem gamblers" who have difficulty controlling their play and expenditure. These problem gamblers account for about 40% of all pokies losses. This means that those who can least afford it are losing the most.
Because of the potential for harm caused by the high loss rate of Australian machines, the Greens will limit bet rates on all pokies to bring losses under control.
By ensuring that all poker machines are limited to "low-intensity" losses of around $100 per hour, the need for mandatory pre-commitment technology is removed and the costs of implementation become negligible. Limiting machines to lower intensity is a simple reform that won't affect most players, but will help problem gamblers limit their losses.
Under the Greens' policy, all Australian poker machines will have the following limitations:
- A maximum bet limit of $1 per spin: Given that 88% of recreational gamblers already spend less than $1 per spin when playing pokies, this policy will not affect the average punter playing the pokies for an hour or two on a night out.
- A load up limit of $20: Limiting the amount of money that can be loaded into a machine at any one time will not affect recreational gamblers but will slow problem gamblers down
- Jackpots of no more than $500: Limiting jackpots reduces the volatility of the machines and therefore their addictiveness.
- A staged introduction to 2017: To give the industry time to adjust, all new machines must support bet and jackpot limits by 2015, with the limits enforced by 2017.