Michelle Reed

News

Tue, 30 Jun, 2015

Bet limits for poker machines to be trialled in Melbourne

Bet limits for poker machines to be trialled in Melbourne

To tackle Victoria’s growing addiction to gambling, betting limits on poker machines will be trialled in Melbourne this month. It’s the first trial of its kind and will involved

100 volunteer gamblers in 14 venues around Melbourne.

The launch is a key part of a proposed multimillion-dollar scheme, as it will help sort out any hiccups with the software before it is rolled out statewide later in the year.

The experts however are sceptical that it will be a success.

Similar trials have failed in other states, according to Monash University Senior lecturer Dr Charles Livingstone. He suggests that the system should be made mandatory for every player.

“The problem is the precommitment scheme being rolled out is voluntary, which means you can use the machines without using the system,’’ he said.

“There have been trials in Australia before, in Queensland and South Australia, which showed the take up rates are very small. It is a step forward but as a system that minimises harm it is at the bottom end of the scale.’’

The solution to reducing the amount of money being put into poker machines, according to Dr Livingstone, is to introduce a maximum $1 bet.

Victorians placed $1.3 billion into the pokies from July to December 2014, with over 40 per cent of revenue coming from users considered to have a gambling problem.

While the trial was allocated $2 million in the 2015-16 budget it is believed that the precommitment program has already cost tens of millions of dollars to develop so far.

The program would see gamblers given a card to use on the poker machines that would let them set limits, change the thresholds and track their betting habits.

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