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Christian Group Continues To Lobby For Australian Gambling Reform

The Australian Churches Gambling Taskforce has been lobbying for gambling reform in Australian casinos, and this past week the group received more ammunition for their argument. The group went public after reviewing the results of a study released by the Australian National University.

The Public Opinion on Gambling poll was conducted by ANU, and surveyed 1,213 Australians. Of those polled, three quarters suggested they backed the government's gaming reform plan. The proposal calls for gamblers to set limits before they start playing slot machines in Australian casinos.

Although the poll represents just a small fraction of the millions of Australians, the ACGT, along with lawmaker Andrew Wilkie, ran with the results in an effort to prove reform was needed. Wilkie has been the driving force behind the reform, so it comes as little surprise that the lawmaker would use the study to persuade other legislators.

"Problem gamblers routinely lose everything including their jobs, family and friends, homes, minds, and sometimes even their lives," said Wilkie. "Millions of Australians are suffering from poker machines and something must be done about it as quickly as possible."

Wilkie has offered several different options for casinos that wish to avoid the preset limits. One of the options is to have a maximum bet of $1 on slot machines inside the casino. It is unlikely that any of the major casinos in Australia would go with this option.

Wilkie also has proposed that smaller casinos, with less than fifteen slot machines, be allowed to slowly integrate the preset limits, giving the small facilities until 2018 to comply. That concession does not much help the casinos bringing the Australian government millions of dollars in tax revenue.

The casinos have maintained they would be open to the betting limits technology if implemented on an optional basis. Wilkie balked at that idea, understanding that no casino would put such restrictions on their revenue in a voluntary manner.

As for the Christian groups, they have also jumped on the ANU study. The support of over 700 Australians was enough for the ACGT to claim that Australians support possible reform legislation.

"But we know from today's poll and from previous polls that Australians are largely supportive of mandatory pre-commitment measures that limit the impact of problem gambling," said Rev Tim Costello, Chair of the ACGT.

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