LETTERS: Pokies lobbyists are peddling fear

I’M disappointed that the Australian Hotels Association (AHA) chose to publish a full page ad in Tuesday’s Herald opposing the government’s reforms designed to help problem gamblers, particularly when they have previously supported voluntary pre-commitment.
Nanjing Night Net

The claims made in the ad are exaggerated and misleading.

It’s disappointing that big gaming lobbyists are trying to peddle fear and misinformation in our community in an attempt to stop these sensible changes from happening.

Our reforms are measured and responsible. They require that new poker machines manufactured from December 31, 2013, be capable of supporting pre-commitment technology and machines in larger venues need to have voluntary pre-commitment by the end of 2016.

We also know that smaller pubs and clubs are different, which is why we’ve given smaller venues more time to be pre-commitment ready. In fact, more than 90per cent of hotels and pubs in Newcastle will have more than eight years to get ready.

Sadly, only 15per cent of problem gamblers – of which three-quarters have a problem with poker machines – seek help for their addiction, which is why our reforms are so critical.

Clubs Australia has already announced its support for voluntary pre-commitment. So have many of the AHA’s own members. Perhaps it’s time the NSW AHA did the same.

Sharon Grierson MP

Federal Member for Newcastle