The Chairman of Woolworths Gordon Cairns has shared his doubt that setting a AU$1 bet limit on pokies would be helpful for players who suffer from problem gambling behaviour.
Currently, Woolworths is one of the largest Australian poker machine operators thanks to the fact that it owns over 330 hotels. Over its latest annual general meeting which took place on Thursday, the company’s shareholders and anti-gambling advocates put Mr. Cairns under some criticism and asked him questions about its poker machine operations.
Woolworths’ Chairman was asked whether he would take into consideration possible introduction of a AU$1 maximum bet limit on poker machines. He, however, explained that there was no proof that such a measure would improve some issues related to problem gambling.
Furthermore, Mr. Cairns reminded that the company was the first hotel operator in the country that introduced the voluntary pre-commitment system, which provides local players with the chance to set a maximum time or spending limit on a poker machine. He praised Woolworths for being the most responsible gambling machines operator on the territory of Australia.
Woolworths’ Pokies Blamed for Being Dangerous
At the annual general meeting of the company, a former gambling addict shared that gambling took literally a decade of her life and that it was very hard for her to get back to her normal life even when she stopped playing the poker machines. According to her, pokies were dangerous for players and shared they had taken something from her that she still was not able to get back.
After hearing her heartbreaking story, Mr. Cairns re-affirmed everyone that his company remained focused on providing people in similar situations with the necessary support. He also explained that most people who used the company’s facilities enjoyed themselves, while the number of people who had experienced problem gambling issues were considerably lower. Woolworths’ Chairman once again reiterated that such players are looked after.
Susan Rennie, an anti-gambling advocate and Melbourne councillor, commented on Woolworths, blaming the company for owning and operating the most aggressive and dangerous poker machines across the country. Ms. Rennie raised a red flag about the possible harm that could be inflicted to players’ lifestyle and called for some changes to be made in order for Australian poker machines to become safer for customers.
Ms. Rennie also made an attempt to enter the Woolworths’ board of directors, but unfortunately for her, her effort was not successful as only 2.9% of investors voted in favour of her election.
Problem Gambling Becoming More Widespread in Australia
Lately, problem gambling has become more widespread in Australia, with more and more people getting affected by gambling addictions. As previously reported by Casino Guardian, a recent survey initiated by the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia, about 200,000 residents of the country have been affected by problem gambling behaviour.
According to the figures presented by the survey, men are more likely to be affected by problem gambling than women, and an increasing number of younger men becoming compulsive gamblers, while the amount spent by them on gambling operations constantly increasing.