Queensland attorney-general Yvette D’Ath Targeting Pokies
The Queensland attorney-general Yvette D’Ath recently said that she is hesitant of sharing the responsibility of approving gaming machines in the region with the local councils, suggesting that it will create an increased risk of problem gambling.
Her unwillingness to regulate gaming machines more strictly had made Queensland a target of the Alliance of Gambling Reform. The Victoria-based group of 19 councils from Victoria and New South Wales advocates a greater interference in stopping the spread of gaming machines in the region.
Their spokesman Tim Costello said on Wednesday that Queensland has the slackest pokies regulatory framework after NSW. He said that the pokies (slot machines) had captured the NSW market and Labor government is sleeping on the problem. The losses from sloppy regulations are expected to exceed $2.4 billion in 2018.
Queensland has big bucks to make via the gaming machines. The portfolio of the attorney-general oversees the office of Liquor and Gaming, which approves and monitors all gaming machines in the region. The government received $687 million in gaming machine revenue in 2016-17, as shown by the budget papers.
The Queensland councils pushed for a greater say in gaming machine approval to the state government on Wednesday, which includes the number and location of gaming machines approved in their area. Currently, councils do not get to decide anything about the machines but have to bear the social costs of these machines in their respective communities.
D’Ath supports the centralization of gaming machine approval power with the state governments, even as the losses incurred from these machines are now topping $93 million a month. However, the attorney general stated that if local councils get more power, the state would see an increased risk in problem gambling.
Saying that the government is serious about controlling problem gambling, she noted that the funding for a survey had been restarted to give clear and reliable advice on the state’s gambling policy. She further noted that the government is contributing over $5.5 million every year to fund treatments for problem gamblers and support services, along with awareness and educational initiatives.
Out of 200 councils, 118 voted in favor of letting councils have more power regarding gaming machine caps in their communities. D’Ath disagrees with their views and suggests that even though proposals will be considered, the government should continue to have authority over gaming machines, in order to avoid inconsistencies.
New proposals will be considered during the annual conference of the Queensland Local Government Association.