Wednesday November 1st 2017
Gaming Machines (Prohibition of EFTPOS Facilities) Amendment Bill
Adjourned debate on second reading.
(Continued from 21 June 2017.)
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (20:42): The Greens rise to support the bill put here by the Hon. John Darley. This is an issue of the prohibition of EFTPOS facilities in gaming rooms, which has been discussed at some length several times in several incarnations, once in a government bill and at least once in a private member's bill. The Greens agree that the precedent has been one that only South Australia has undertaken, that we have gone the wrong way on this and that stepping back is the appropriate measure to reduce gaming harm in this state.
The Hon. K.L. VINCENT (20:43): The Dignity Party also supports the Hon. Mr Darley's bill and we would like to thank him for the constructive work that he has done with us and other crossbenchers on this important issue of removing easy access to EFTPOS facilities in gambling venues. Supporting gambling is deficit policy. Gambling addiction, particularly poker machine gambling addiction, has destroyed the lives of many South Australians. Consistent with the Dignity Party's position not to support nor condone the Labor government and Liberal opposition's own addictions to gambling revenue, we will be supporting this sensible measure to remove easy access to EFTPOS facilities in gambling venues as one step forward to addressing the scourge of gambling in our community.
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (20:44): I rise on behalf of Liberal members to indicate that we will not be supporting the bill. As the Hon. Ms Franks indicated, I think we have had two occasions in the last two years when this issue has been addressed. In 2015, the state Labor government actually introduced this amendment and did so, on my recollection—but I guess the Hon. Mr Hanson will have the detail, as he speaks on behalf of the government members—as a result of a review that was conducted by a committee that included people from the hotels and clubs industry but also representatives from the welfare sector.
The government's position in 2015 supporting this particular change was that that particular committee had recommended the change. I repeat: it was a committee that included, so we were told, hotel and club representatives and a representative from the welfare sector—that is, someone representing problems concerning problem gamblers.
We were told by the government, and the reason we supported it at the time, that that committee supported this change on the basis that there would at least be human interaction because of an EFTPOS machine as opposed to an ATM and that trained staff within the gaming section of the venue were trained to recognise people who might be having problems with gambling. If someone kept coming back to an EFTPOS machine looking for more money, there was at least the chance that the trained staff person would recognise the potential problem gambler and initiate the protocols which they were required to do.
If the problem gambler leaves the venue, goes to the ATM just outside the door of the gaming part of the venue—so it could still be in the hotel—the government's argument to us was that there was no human interaction in that interaction with an ATM and, therefore, the government proposed the amendment. The Liberal Party supported it in 2015 as a result of the government-initiated legislative change. In 2016 I think the Hon. Mr Darley introduced a bill making a number of changes, one of which was this issue. The government members and Liberal members opposed that particular change at that particular time. Our position, given that the arguments remain the same in 2017 as they were in 2016 and 2015 in our viewpoint, is that for those reasons we will not be supporting the legislation.
The Hon. J.M. GAZZOLA (20:47): Probably as the most experienced member to speak on this, the bill proposes to amend the Gaming Machines Act 1992 to remove the ability for customers to obtain cash from EFTPOS facilities located within the gaming area of a licensed premises. Members may recall that the government embarked on an extensive gambling reform and administrative reduction agenda in 2013 and 2015 which attempted to reduce and avoid problematic gambling behaviour while not inadvertently lowering the enjoyment derived by most customers who play gaming machines responsibly.
As a result of that gambling reform, gaming venues have been able to provide EFTPOS facilities to customers in the gaming area of a licensed venue since 1 January 2016. Having EFTPOS facilities available in gaming areas means that customers wishing to obtain cash have face-to-face interaction with an employee who has benefitted from recognised training. This training is required under the Gaming Machines Act 1992 and addresses gaming operations; responsible gambling; problem gambling identification, including automated risk monitoring; and pre-commitment.
An advanced level of training is also undertaken by gaming managers and includes low-level intervention and referral to gambling help services. An EFTPOS facility located outside the gaming area is not necessarily operated by a person with recognised training nor are they in a position to observe behaviour in the gaming area. This could result in a situation where some problem gambling risk factors cannot be observed by those trained to identify and respond to them.
While having an EFTPOS facility in a gaming area may seem counterintuitive from a responsible gambling perspective, the government is of the view that having an EFTPOS facility in the gaming area which is operated by a person who has been trained and is able to observe the behaviour of customers in the gaming area will result in a better outcome. For these reasons, I ask that honourable members oppose this bill.
Second reading negatived.