Whilst many of us were enjoying a break over the festive season, the maximum size of single-spin bet on a poker machine throughout South Australia was formally reduced by half to $5. Compliance with the new law announced on New Year’s Eve is mandatory. Venues who fail to set their poker machines to accept no more than $5 per spin by January 1, will have their operation shut down, at least until such time as compliance is met.
State officials are optimistic the majority of pokies venues will comply with the new rules. However, they are still anticipating about 500 machines will be turned off.
The new limit was flagged in 2013 as part of the Government’s reforms of the Gaming Machines Act aimed at reducing red tape for venues and problem gambling.
Many anti-gambling lobbyists and activist groups are still not happy with the outcome and are arguing that the bet limit should be reduced to $1 per spin.
Communities Minister Zoe Bettison is on board with South Australia’s pokies limitations. She admitted that gambling is a “popular Australian pastime”, but argued that its prevalence has contributed to the rapid development of gambling addiction in some people.
Senator Nick Xenophon argues that a $5 pokies bet limit isn’t nearly enough to quell the rate of problem gambling in Australia. Xenophon confirmed that he and state MLC John Darley will not rest until their push for a $1 limitation is realised. “The challenge is to wind back the damage done by existing venues,” said the Senator.
Xenophon and his team aren’t the only ones pushing for $1 limits. Coles Supermarkets, the second largest supplier of pokies venues in the country (behind Woolworths), stated in November that they would also like to see pokie bets reduced to $1 per spin. Woolworths, on the other hand, was solidly against the idea. Both earn a significant portion of their revenue from poker machines.