A further measure has been taken in the fight against problem gambling and, although it is a relatively small one, it could prove to be quite an effective way to cut down on the amount gamblers are putting into pokies machines. Following the ban of ATMs in pokies venues, the change machine has been the next victim of the gradual gambling reforms, although it has not undergone an outright ban. In accordance with new regulations, any machines that dispense coins in gambling venues must be shut down in the early hours of the morning, in order to prevent gamblers from changing any notes to fund further gambling during these designated hours.
This is not quite as extensive as the move originally intended by anti-pokies campaigners but it is certainly a step in the right direction. If people like Senator Nick Xenophon had their way then the venues themselves would be closed between 2am and 8am, while change machines would be dispensed with altogether. While this has not come to pass, the machines themselves will be disabled during these hours so while gambling is still possible, it will be harder to obtain the change required to operate them.
Xenophon feels that coin machines should not be permitted as they eliminate the human element that is vital to helping gamblers control their spending. Many venues do have specially trained members of staff who can recognise problem gamblers or those at risk and offer them assistance or refuse them service. Of course, a change machine does not provide the same discretion and if there is a way to skip any human interaction that might hinder their gambling, many problem gamblers will go for the easier option.
Anglicare SA was also opposed to the operation of pokies machines before 10am on weekdays and between 2am and 8am on weekends, especially since the more vulnerable problem gamblers tend to gamble during these times. These include drug abusers, alcoholics, the unemployed and those on low incomes, which is why it is vital to help protect them from themselves. While venues are allowed to continue operating during these times, the disabling of the change machines should at least go some way to helping reduce spending on pokies.
There is however another issue presented by the disabling of change machines. With gamblers being forced to consult staff members for change, this results in more physical money being held by the cashier, which is much less secure than the safe inside a change machine. Spending may decrease but there is also an increased risk of theft during these hours.