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Pokies must go for action on harmful gambling addiction: Greens

Media Release
Sarah Hanson-Young 14 Feb 2018

It is deeply disappointing that the majority of senators have turned their backs on vulnerable Australians by voting down a motion calling for the phasing out of poker machines in pubs and clubs, the Australian Greens say.

“With hundreds of thousands of Australians at risk of harmful gambling addiction, it’s a travesty that senators, excluding the Nick Xenophon Team, have voted down a Greens’ motion to tackle predatory gambling.

“However it seems the Nick Xenophon Team in Canberra is obviously not on the same page as their old boss when it comes to pokies reform. We’ve seen today NXT support a motion that backs the SA Greens’ policy position on pokies reform that Nick Xenophon has distanced himself from, and one of his candidates has declared untenable,” Greens Senator for South Australia Sarah Hanson-Young said.

“When SA Greens MLC Tammy Franks announced the Greens would be pushing to phase out of pokies in pubs and clubs over five years, Nick Xenophon, who was last elected to the South Australian Parliament under the ‘No Pokies’ banner, shot down the plan and his candidate went one better and said it was impossible.

“If we want to get serious about making sure the most vulnerable in our society struggling with gambling addiction, and to stop is spreading, we must get rid of pokies. A business model that relies on addiction is a one that flies in the face of community health and wellbeing, and it needs to change.

“Only the SA Greens are campaigning to phase out poker machines from South Australia’s pubs and clubs in the upcoming state election, and only the SA Greens can be trusted to vote that way.”

Greens Senator for Queensland and gambling spokesperson Andrew Bartlett said, “What’s happened in the Senate today proves The Greens are the only party willing to take a strong, active and direct role in standing up to the harmful, predatory gambling industry as an urgent matter of public safety."

“We have a national addiction to poker machines – nearly one in five of the world’s poker machines are here in Australia, and Australians lose more money to poker machines than anywhere else in the world per capita.

“This is not due to us having a predisposition of ‘having a punt’ – gambling companies have purposefully designed poker machines to manipulate consumers into spending more money and time on each session.

“This has resulted in half a million Australians suffering or at risk of problem gambling, leading to suicide, depression, relationships breakdown, job loss, lowered work productivity, bankruptcy and crime.

“We have a real opportunity to combat this horrible affliction at its greatest source. Up to one quarter of regular pokies users classify as problem gamblers.

“But the cashed up gambling industry and their lobbyists in Parliament continue to donate millions of dollars to the major parties, choking any real action on protecting vulnerable individuals that are being bled dry by poker machines.

“The hundreds of thousands of vulnerable Australians, their families, and their communities are suffering at the hands of greedy gambling industry profits, and clearly cannot count on the major parties, who offer callous inaction while gladly accepting obscene gambling industry donations."

Media contacts:
Hanson-Young: Amy Moran 0427 604 760

Bartlett: Katinka Allom 0419 626 725


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