The Government of the State of South Australia has proposed changes to the current gambling legislation, according to which slot machines or pokies, as they are known in Australia, will accept not only coins but also banknotes. Recent research from the Australia Institute, however, reveals that the vast majority of people reject the Government’s plans, believing that the changes would only increase the issue with problem gambling.
The findings come as a result of an online survey of 503 South Australians who were asked whether poker machines should be allowed to accept banknotes rather than only coins. Researchers from the Australia Institute also wanted to know their opinions on how this regulatory change would affect gambling addiction in the state.
The results are overwhelmingly against the measure proposed by the Government, with 41 per cent of the people saying only poker machines working with coins should be permitted and another 41 per cent saying that poker machines, as a whole, should be banned. Furthermore, 80 per cent of those who participated in the survey believe that the move will increase harm from problem gambling.
In a December 4 press release, Noah Schultz-Byard, Director of The Australia Institute SA, said that the new research clearly demonstrates the strong community opposition to the Government’s proposal. According to him, gambling addiction is a serious issue across the country and such a move is strongly rejected by residents of South Australia.
Currently, the measure is part of a proposed regulatory change, which aims at bringing the state’s regulatory framework in line with other jurisdictions in Australia and New Zealand. Introducing the planned move, Attorney-General Vickie Chapman said in September that the new poker machines accepting both coins and banknotes would be strictly regulated. The amount of money inserted by any individual player would be controlled so that the risks to problem gamblers could be “mitigated”, she added.
Moreover, the changes would also include barring patrons from poker machine venues if they are registered as problem gamblers. The barring orders would be issued for all types of gaming venues – from hotels and clubs to the Adelaide Casino.
Key Findings from the Research
The survey included 503 South Australian residents and was conducted online through Dynata between 1 and 13 November 2019. It was based on two major questions – what were people’s positions on the Government’s proposal and whether allowing gaming machines that accept banknotes and coins would have a negative or positive effect on the gambling addiction rates in South Australia. According to the results, published this week, people are overwhelmingly against the new measures.
Only 13 per cent of participants approve installing poker machines that accept both coins and notes, while 41 per cent of the people say that only machines working with coins should be permitted. Another 41 per cent are against all poker machines, saying that pokies should be outright banned. The other 4 per cent have selected the Don’t Know/ Not Sure option when asked the same question.
The participants in the online poll are even more definitive when it comes to the potential effects of the measure to the harm from problem gambling. According to 80 per cent of all surveyed, adding poker machines that accept banknotes would only increase the harm to the community from gambling addiction.
Around 17 per cent of the people believe that the reform will have no effect on the problem gambling rates, while 2 per cent are not certain of the outcome and a mere 0.4 per cent believe that the proposed regulation will increase the harm for gambling.