Posted 20/04/2011 9:22:16 AM by clubsnsw editor
ClubsAustralia advocates a common sense and proven approach to assisting problem gamblers.
For a number of years, clubs have been at the forefront of developing strategies and programs that deal specifically with the issue of destructive gambling.
To provide context, there are approximately 60,000 problem gamblers in Australia and 5 million individuals who play the pokies annually.
Proportionally, this is not a huge number: there are 4 million smokers and 9.4 million overweight people in Australia. But the industry is committed to operating safe gambling environments and effective harm minimisation practices.
Clubs are essentially grass-roots, community organisations. They are non-for-profit organisations owned by members, for members. By law, registered clubs are not permitted to operate for private gain; they are organisations based on the principle of mutuality. It makes no sense for the club industry to want to see its members become problem gamblers.
Clubs in all states and territories implement a comprehensive program which deals specifically with the issue of problem gambling. In New South Wales, the ClubSafe program was conceived with significant input from some of Australia’s foremost problem gambling experts and the Australian Institute for Gambling Research.
ClubSafe was not born out of a need to satisfy legislative requirements, but from a dedicated commitment to lead the club movement to a position of pro-active industry self-governance in responsible gambling. The program operates to equip gaming staff with a host of tools, enabling them to appropriately respond to and assist problem gamblers. Likewise, self-exclusion schemes allow problem gamblers to physically ban themselves from entering the gaming area of a venue.
ClubsAustralia supports the introduction of voluntary, venue-based pre-commitment rolled out over the natural life cycle of the machines. This allows players who decide that should they wish to exercise the option of using pre-commitment as a tool for budgeting, this technology will be available to them.
In 2008 the President of ClubsAustralia, Peter Newell, delivered a speech to the National Press Club outlining an additional six-point plan to aid in reducing the number of problem gamblers. The policy does not belittle the issue of problem gambling by offering a “solution” in the form of a gambling card. Instead, it places emphasis on research and human contact and offers viable strategies to assist in curtailing the rate of problem gambling.
Below is a brief outline of ClubsAustralia’s 6 point problem gambling plan:
1) Establish a national, independent Australian body responsible for investigating and compiling gambling research and statistics. This will combat the haphazard and contradictory way in which gambling data is currently released. Research that is commissioned by vested interest groups often leads to counter-productive veracity disputes.
2) Introduce a blanket ban on all forms of credit card gambling. This policy would be particularly effective in curbing the rate of online problem gambling.
3) Establish uniform harm minimisation strategies that apply across the industry. There is no point in restricting gambling in pubs and clubs if people are free to gamble unrestricted on the internet or at the casino. Uniform regulations would mean that all forms of gambling are made as safe as possible.
4) Require RCG (Responsible Conduct of Gambling) refresher courses for all frontline gaming staff. Staff supervision is a central component of responsible gambling practices.
5) Integrate gambling education into the school curriculum and give greater emphasis to counselling services and family interventions. Counselling has been shown to be highly effective in treating and preventing problem gambling.
6) Establish an expert advisory body, staffed with leading academics, representatives from the Government and industry. The aim of this forum would be to develop successful policies to further reduce the rate of problem gambling.
ClubsAustralia believes that the needs of problem gamblers are best met by policies that offer targeted and comprehensive solutions. Current measures have already resulted in the prevalence rate of problem gambling having fallen in every state and territory over the last ten years.