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Churches still strong on gambling reform

A new voice in the fight for poker machine reform, the Stop the Loss Coalition, was launched on 20 January along with a
new research paper arguing that the gambling industry has grossly overestimated the financial impact of the proposed poker machine mandatory precommitment reforms.

The paper, Rubbery Figures: An examination of the claimed and likely cost of poker machine reform in Australia produced by The Australia Institute, refutes claims by the gambling industry that the proposed reforms will cost $5 billion.

The Institute showed that the cost is likely to be between $171 million and $342 million.

The Institute’s Executive Director, Dr Richard Denniss, said the $5 billion estimate is an exaggeration based on the cost of
introducing a policy that no-one is actually proposing.

“They have ignored the proposed phase-in periods and, in turn, ignored the fact that the cost of replacing machines is less for every year of service, and after seven years, non-compliant machines are replaced with new compliant machines at virtually no extra cost,” he said.

The launch of the report and the Coalition was followed on 21 January by the announcement that federal politicians were
unable to agree to evidence based reform and action mandatory precommitment in this parliamentary term.

UnitingCare Australia National Director, Lin Hatfield Dodds, said the announcement was “deeply disappointing”.

Speaking after the Prime Minister’s announcement of the compromise position on poker machine reform, Ms Hatfield Dodds said problem gambling will continue to cause untold damage to the lives of people struggling with poker machine
addiction, with huge knock on impacts for their families and communities.

"If the legislation outlined by the Prime Minister passes through Parliament we will have national legislation regulating pokies for the first time,” Ms Hatfield Dodds said.

“This is a significant step in the right direction.”

Founding Stop the Loss Coalition members include UnitingCare Australia, Anglicare, GetUp, the Gambling Impact Society, PokieACT and the Free Yourself Program.

Rev Tim Costello, chair of the Australian Churches Gambling Taskforce, spoke at the launch of the Stop the Loss Coalition in Sydney.

Also present were Ms Hatfield Dodds and Catholic Social Services Australia Executive Director Paul O’Callaghan.

The Coalition also unveiled a plan to letterbox one million homes in New South Wales and Queensland about the need for

For more information visit www.stoptheloss.org.au