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Pokies Reform in Australia
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The campaign for tighter controls over pokie machines in Australia continues to intensify as Andrew Wilkie (a key independent in Australian politics) continues to push for mandatory pre-commitment for poker machine players whereby players will need to determine the amount they are willing to loose before entering a club, pub or casino to play the pokies.

With the Labor party however gaining an extra seat in parliament due to the independent speaker resigning and being swapped with a coalition party member, Andrew Wilke may not succeed in getting his reforms through parliament as they are very unpopular in labor heartland and the government no longer needs Wilke’s support to cling on to power.  The extra votes raised the prospect the Gillard Labor Government in Australia could afford to ignore Mr Wilkie who warned in defense “They are not going to cut me loose.’  Wilke, an independent from Tasmania who has the outlook for pokies for the whole of Australia at his fingertips has vowed not to give up on his crusade against poker machines.   People who are not unhappy with these laws can quite easily still enjoy free pokies online.

It is a very interesting state of affairs in Australian politics as the pokies have created a huge industry along with the major manufactures, Aristocrat, Ainsworth, IGT and Konami.  Australia currently boasts 197 000 slot machines, the highest number of machines per head of population in the entire world.  Around 600,000 Aussies play the pokies on a weekly basis as a form of entertainment.  These pokies in casinos, pubs and clubs throughout Australia make up 62% of the AUD$19 billion annual gambling sector and 40% of this is said to be contributed by problem gamblers.  Wilke is arguing strongly that players can loose up to $1,000 per hour and this must be stopped through regulation.

The Greens party in Australia has proposed an idea that all pokie machines need to be capped at a $1.00 maximum bet per spin.  Anyone who is familiar with these machines would know that this is a ridiculous idea as every machine in Australia would need to be reconfigured and some of the buttons would simply not work if this was the case, costing the poker machine industry hundreds of millions to replace and retire machines that do not fall within a $1.00 maximum bet.  Another dumb idea from the Greens party.

There is a backlash in Australia against pokie reforms.  “I hate what the government is trying to do. It’s my money I put in these machines and they have no right to dictate how I spend it,” a senior member of Sydney’s Star City said.  However Wilke’s argument is that over 100,000 Australians are problem gamblers and these people need to be protected through gambling reforms.

What do you think about these new pokie reforms in Australia?  Will people just prefer to play online pokies?



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