Directions for South Australia – Addressing Gambling Harm

“While gambling harm has social implications beyond the individual, the state government’s 6.1% tax windfall from poker machines is a disincentive to action.” – Kelly Vincent MLC

Introduction:

Dignity Party believes there is enough evidence to show that South Australia needs to address our addiction to gambling and the harm it causes.

It is estimated that in 2015-16 South Australians lost over $1bn while betting around $10bn on gaming, racing and sports.  Poker machines account for around half of net gambling expenditure and three-quarters of gambling taxes (Qld Treasury, 2017, Govt of SA, 2017).

While it is legal, gambling can be extremely harmful to consumers. Gamblers might run up debt, face bankruptcy and perhaps lose their homes.  Stress, mental health issues and substance abuse are also linked to problem gambling.  However, harm is not limited to the individual, but has wider social implications in relation to crime, relationship breakdown and family violence.

Given the social implications, it would be wise to de-stigmatise gambling addiction and address the problem as a health issue rather than individual choice.  Taking a public health approach (similar to smoking) could include market and advertising restrictions, public education and examination of poker machine design.

The nature of sports betting and online gambling dictates it is best tackled at a national level with federal and state government involvement. Poker machines are within the SA Government’s purview, but with poker machine taxes making up 6.1% of South Australian state taxes (Govt of SA, 2017) there is clear disincentive to act.

 

Action:

Dignity Party believes In South Australia we must:

  • Introduce $1 per spin bet limits on poker machines
  • Reduce the number of poker machines to 12,000 as previously flagged by state government
  • Remove EFTPOS machines from gaming areas, as required for ATMs
  • Fund advocacy for consumer protection and gambling harm prevention measures.

Dignity Party OPPOSE the state’s continued reliance on revenue from harmful poker machines.

Dignity Party PROPOSE implementation of harm reduction strategies as a minimum.

 

References

Govt of South Australia (2017) State Budget Paper 2017-18, Budget Statement, BP 3, Government of South Australia.

Qld Treasury (2017) Australian Gambling Statistics, 33rd Edition, 2015-16. Queensland Government Statistician’s Office, Queensland Treasury, Brisbane.

Govt of South Australia (2017) State Budget Paper 2017-18, Budget Statement, BP 3, Government of South Australia.