Cards a possible pokie fix
A CARD-BASED system that stops gamblers from playing poker machines once they have reached a pre-set limit may be the best way to curb Bundaberg’s growing gambling problem, according to an expert.
CQ University lecturer and researcher Matthew Rockloff said the “pre-commitment system” was similar to the one floated by independent Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie at the end of last week.
Dr Rockloff said the system would allow gamblers to set a limit before they started gambling and would stop them from playing once they reached that limit.
“It will be expensive to get all the venues with the same system, but it certainly is do-able,” he said.
Gambling in Bundaberg is rapidly on the increase, with $4.1 million spent on pokie machines during July this year — a 5% increase compared to July 2009.
Dr Rockloff said the system would help people stick to their personal limit, which most gamblers already set before they started.
“Once they reach their limit, a lot often tend to chase their losses and try and win what they have lost back and end up losing more,” he said.
But Dr Rockloff warned the system could not be solely relied upon.
“It’s one of the best ways to prevent problem gambling from a technical perspective, but it’s not a magic bullet,” he said.
“I don’t think it will be a solution to prevent problem gambling, but it will serve to let people know early on just how much they are spending, so it might stop before their gambling becomes problematic.”
Dr Rockloff said the card system would only work alongside other initiatives.
“I would like to see people given the knowledge that treatment for problem gambling is free and readily available,” he said.
“I’ve done research that shows a number of gamblers are concerned about the cost of treatment and are unaware of the fact it is free.”
Dr Rockloff said primary prevention strategies, such as television advertisements, to warn players about the signs of problem gambling should continue.
He also said lower bet size limits may have some minor impacts.