Problem gamblers have always had to rely on their own self-control in their struggle to overcome their gambling habits but for a while it looked like help was on the way in the form of mandatory pre-commitment limits on poker machines. Pokies have been the most popular form of gambling for many years now and as such have caused no end of financial problems for addicted gamblers who just can’t bring themselves to stop playing.
But this was set to change with the introduction of pre-commitment limits on pokies, which would require players to set a maximum amount of money they were willing to lose in advance of playing. When they reached this limit the machine would not allow them to play any further, giving them a chance to quit while they were (relatively) ahead, rather than lose more money trying to get it back, as is sadly often the case.
But unfortunately plans to implement such a feature have fallen through and the ACT gaming industry has confirmed that this trial will not be put into practise in the foreseeable future. This would have been a very positive step forwards in the reform of gambling but it seems such a notion is a mere pipe dream at this point.
Jeff House, chief executive of Clubs ACT, explained that the time to set up such a trial was insufficient. Originally the pre-commitment trial was to begin in February all across the ACT but this is no longer the case as apparently none of the machines are ready for this kind of technology. While it seemed like a simple thing to put in place at first, it turns out that they would have to be heavily modified and a third of them would even need to be replaced completely.
The promise of gambling reform was made back in 2010 but the government has since gone back on it. This reform would make it a requirement for all new poker machines to have the technology already equipped from 2013, while by 2016 all machines would be required to have it installed. This could still happen by then but it is a much less likely prospect than it was two years ago.
The book is not closed on gambling reform but it is hard to be optimistic about it. Only vague efforts are being made at this point, with none of them coming to fruition and a lack of support from certain parties are slowing the process down even more. It looks like gamblers will just have to make that effort themselves.