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Pokies Note Acceptors Bulldozed Through SA Parliament This Week

After a marathon debate in the state Upper House (over three days and long nights into early morning) the controversial bills that will ‘turbo charge gambling harm’ by allowing note acceptors in SA poker machines has drawn the condemnation of Greens’ MLC Tammy Franks.

Despite the lengthy debate and dozens of amendments put to the Bills by the crossbench members the bills passed the South Australian parliament after 8pm last night with not a single Labor or Liberal MP allowed to exercise a conscience vote and never once supporting an amendment to the bills - giving rise to repeated suggestions in the chamber that a ‘deal had been done’ well before the debate even started. The Greens, SA Best, and Advance SA all voted against the Bills.

Greens and SA Best amendments put that all MPs from both the major parties rejected:

  • Maximum $1 bets
  • Ensuring Labor’s required facial recognition technology is only used to actually reduce gambling harm rather than (as it often used by Casinos) to groom gambling behaviours
  • Liquor Licensing fee concessions for ‘Pokies Free’ Pubs
  • Increased penalties for allowing children in gaming rooms
  • Penalties for advertising inducing children to gamble
  • More money into the gambling rehabilitation fund and a stronger voice at the advisory table for the social welfare sector and those with lived experience of gambling harm
  • Various transparency measures around reporting including making timely statistical information on gambling expenditure more readily available
  • Protection for a person to be barred from bureaucratic delays having their barred status lapse

The following quotes are attributable to Tammy Franks MLC:

“In the debate the Treasurer’s modelling for this legislation predicts gambling revenue to now go up by $2m (then $3m) each year and that may well be reflected in this month’s mid-year budget review figures, but the figures for poverty, suicide, mental health and harm in our state will also increase and along with that the costs to our social services sector will balloon over those same years.

“The crossbench MLCs put up some basic protections and safeguards in amendments. In what was quite unusual for a state Upper House debate every single one of the dozens of crossbench amendments were flatly rejected by both Labor and Liberal MPs on the floor.

“The debate was an appalling display of public spin winning over legislative substance as Labor’s deal with Government to introduce these note acceptors with purported protections was shown to be flimsy and false. On being caught out on this the Opposition simply shrugged their shoulders and blamed the Government.

“Without facial recognition technology (FTR) protections in the Act to ensure the use of FTR is to prevent harm rather than to groom or promote gambling, the Labor amendments are worthless. In fact, tonight they might as well have put the fox in charge of the henhouse by pretending a tool (FTR) to manipulate behaviours will not be used to do so.

“Under the scrutiny of the chamber’s questioning Labor’s so-called ‘strict’ $100 limit on these machines turned out to be as illusory as Labor’s pretense that they were not complicit in the Bill from the start.

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