13:54 AEST Tue Oct 11 2011
South Australian senator Nick Xenophon has written a letter to all federal coalition and independent MPs, urging them to consider the facts rather than the claims of Clubs Australia in the debate over poker-machine gambling reforms.The government's plan to adopt a mandatory pre-commitment system for high-intensity poker machines has attracted strong opposition from registered clubs and the AFL.
The independent senator said the reforms were designed to help prevent recreational gamblers from becoming problem gamblers.
"The reforms are about putting a fence at the top of the cliff rather than an ambulance at the bottom," Senator Xenophon wrote in the letter.
Under the government's plan, high-intensity pokie machines, or those that take large bets, will be reprogrammed to cap losses at $120 an hour rather than $1200.
People who want to play the high-intensity machines will have to use a mandatory pre-commitment card and set a monetary limit but the lower betting machines won't need a card.
The senator said industry calls for voluntary pre-commitment technology won't be effective.
Trials of voluntary pre-commitment in Queensland and South Australia show a take-up rate of less than 1.5 per cent of gamblers, Senator Xenophon said.