5 February 2009
Embargo: 10.30am, Friday 6 February
Rudd must intervene on pokies, says gambling author
The Federal Government must stop the collusion between state governments and the gaming industry that has created a growing number of poker-machine addicts, a Victoria University researcher claims.
Speaking today at the launch of her book, 'Understanding Problem Gambling', VU PhD graduate Jennifer Borrell said the Federal Government had the duty and the power to penalise state governments that rely on taxation from poker machines and reward those that don't by way of funding agreements.
"States should be rewarded with grants for reducing dependency on poker machines, including the provision of a safe product that doesn't induce problem gambling," Dr Borrell said. "This would provide compensation for lost revenue."
"It is essential that we break the nexus between the profitability of poker machines and the harm they cause so that increased profit does not cause greater harm."
Dr Borrell said best-practice standards would ban or minimise features that lead to problem gambling.
Such features include: creating an illusion that players are always close to winning, even when they are not; offering small rewards that encourage continuous play; and being able to feed bank notes directly into the machine.
"If governments want to address the issue of problem gambling they would put the onus on industry to prove the machines are safe," Dr Borrell said.
Launching the book, anti-gambling campaigner Tim Costello said: "The Victorian public have made up their minds. Surveys show that 87 per cent of people favour the number of machines being reduced or their being removed altogether.
"Jennifer Borrell's research shows the public has got it right. Now we're calling on the State Government to implement sane policy that doesn't see these machines prey on addicted people."
NB: Tim Costello will launch the book at the Level 17 Artspace, 17th floor, Victoria University Flinders Street campus, 300 Flinders St Melbourne at 9.30am tomorrow (Friday, Feb 6).
Media are invited to attend. Dr Borrell is available for interview: 0432 667 121.
Media contact: Jim Buckell, A/Senior Media Officer
Marketing and Communications Department, Victoria University
Phone: +61 3 9919 4243; Mobile: 0400 465 459; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org