The fight to implement pre-commitment on pokies has taken an interesting turn as a new plan has been put into action to provide gamblers with loyalty cards that carry out this exact function. The primary objective here is to allow gamblers to set their own betting limits on their pokies losses by using a loyalty card, similar to the ones that many shops provide in order to tempt customers back to spend more money.
The state government is aiming to provide voluntary pre-commitment cards for every machine in Victoria by the end of 2015, which includes those found in the Crown Casino. The system will be brought to life by Intralot Gaming Services, which has set out to combine loyalty programs with betting limits on one card, and it expects success.
A spokesman for Gaming Minister Edward O’Donohue has said that the pros and cons of this new scheme are currently under consideration and factors to take into account include how cost effective the cards will be, how beneficial they will be to the gamblers and how well consumers will be protected.
Monash University public health senior lecturer Charles Livingstone is against the idea and does not believe it is wise to combine loyalty programs with pre-commitment schemes. His problem with pre-commitment was that the gaming industry only favours it because it is unlikely to have much of an effect and for gaming groups, it is just an opportunity for them to take advantage of the loyalty program for their own ends. For this reason, the system would need to be very carefully planned but it would be wrong to use it for marketing in any capacity.
Opposition spokesman Martin Pakula is also against this plan and says the minister should not rule in favour of it. Handing over the pre-commitment system contract to a company like Intralot is a very daring move, especially in light of the problems it has faced with the monitoring of pokies in Victoria.
An Intralot spokesman says that the company is aware of the problems it encountered with its monitoring system but they were minor and have since been fixed.
Despite the debate, the government is confident that the pre-commitment system will help problem gamblers play more responsibly, whatever form it took. Apparently research has provided evidence that gamblers are unaware of just how much they spend on pokies but with pre-commitment they will be able to keep track of it more accurately.