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Cut max poker machine bets and slash gambling harm in ACT

Territory has country’s highest max bet, it can be the lowest, new paper says

11 Oct 2022

Poker machine losses in the ACT for those suffering gambling harm could be reduced up to 10-fold if the territory introduced maximum $1 bets to replace the current maximum bet which is among the highest in Australia.

Canberrans lose more than $143m a year on poker machines according to the latest available data (2021) and the evidence shows that the current $10 maximum bet per spin on poker machines dramatically increases gambling harm.

The chief executive of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, Carol Bennett, has welcomed the ACT government’s pledge to reduce the current $10 maximum bet for poker machines but urged the government to go further than lowering the limit to $5 per spin.

“Research shows that reducing the maximum bet to $1 will reduce the pace at which someone can lose money. In the ACT the loss rate could be reduced from $1,200 an hour to $120 an hour,” Ms Bennett said.
“Nine in ten recreational gamblers bet below $1, whereas half of gamblers experiencing high levels of harm bet above $1, making a bet limit effective at targeting gambling harm while not impacting other gamblers.”

Ms Bennett said the Productivity Commission in 2010 recommended the introduction of $1 maximum bets. But such a move has failed to be adopted by the States and Territories.

The Alliance for Gambling Reform Policy Position Paper released today recommends the programming of machines to allow a $1 maximum bet.

It also calls for an independent investigation into claims made by the industry - who are resisting this change - that introducing machines with $1 bets is too difficult and costly to do.

“The industry has a vested interest to fight anything that helps reduce gambling harm and impacts their bottom line. It is a predatory industry that seeks to exploit those who use poker machines to extract every dollar it can,” Ms Bennett said.
“I applaud the ACT Government’s decision to move to reduce maximum bets, I would strongly urge them to heed the evidence in this policy paper and move to introduce $1 bets.”

Media contact: Martin Thomas – 0477 340 704

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