$1 maximum bets won’t curb gambling issues: GTA

The Gaming Technologies Association (GTA) has hit back at claims regarding the design of poker machines operating in the Australian market.

“A number of statements have been made in recent days which represent a clear challenge to the integrity of our industry and which are quite simply incorrect.

“The gaming industry, community and government have been working together for many years to create a properly regulated and responsible industry,” GTA chief executive Ross Ferrar said.

“Poker machines are a legitimate leisure activity that many Australians enjoy responsibly.

“Let’s stick to the facts. Australia has one of the most stringent regulatory environments for poker machines in the world. Regulators impose comprehensive conditions on every aspect of poker machine design and operation.

“To be clear, State Government regulations in Australia expressly prohibit ‘near miss’ machines and there is no disguising the outcome of any bet. Machines clearly display one of two possible outcomes — a win or a loss — for each and every bet.

“Bet limits in Australia are among the lowest, and play speed the slowest in the world,” Ferrar said.

On the issue of changes to maximum bets the Association said this would be the most expensive and least effective way to reduce the incidence of problem gambling which the Productivity Commission report acknowledges is declining.

The cost of transitioning Australian gaming machines to meet just some of the changes put forward ranges from A$5,000 (US$3,795) for newer machines (21 percent of Australian total) to A$9,000 for machines between 3-5 years old (15 percent), while those greater than five years old, representing 64 percent of all machines in Australia, would require replacement.

The total cost of this process would be approximately A$3.6 billion, said Ferrar.

“Access to direct support and counselling is the best and most effective way to help people with gambling issues, the GTA strongly supports initiatives to direct greater effort in this area,” he added.