Saturday 15 October 2011

Typical Government | first they giveth then they take it away

Cairns Clubs respond to the Federal Government's poker machine reforms

Damon Guppy
Saturday, October 15, 2011
© The Cairns Post

CAIRNS clubs say the Federal Government's poker machine reforms could lead to an increase in problem gambling and threaten jobs and vital grants to community groups. 

Clubs Queensland vice-president John McCallum and Cazalys general manager Jason Salecich said while Far Northern venues agreed measures needed to be in place to reduce gambling addiction, plans to introduce a mandatory licence to play poker machines would be ineffective.

Mr McCallum, who is also the Brothers Leagues Club chairman of directors, said clubs across the state already had adopted policies to deal with problem punters. "A person with a gambling addiction should not gamble ever, full stop, whether it is on gaming machines, horse racing, Black Jack, roulette or whatever," he said. "To expect them to set any limit, let alone one that is realistic, is irresponsible in itself as it would be akin to saying to an alcoholic, "it’s okay to drink, you just need to set your own limit on the number of drinks you want to have each day’."

Mr McCallum said there was no evidence the national database, proposed by independents Nick Xenophon and Andrew Wilkie, would prevent or reduce problem gambling. "It is an unproven, extreme proposal that could actually result in an increase in problem gambling and will threaten the invaluable contributions made by not-for-profit community clubs in Australia and the jobs of the many thousands they employ," he said.

Mr Salecich said the reforms would have an impact not only on business, but also the millions of dollars that clubs give to community groups. "The issue for all clubs is that we know there will be damage and any impact on a club has a direct adverse impact on its community," he said. "Cazalys provides direct financial support to a significant number of community organisations.

"Cazalys is a very proud corporate citizen of Cairns and provides this support willingly to the tune of over $1 million dollars each year to hundreds of diverse community organisations.
"If the impacts are severe to the point that even with the rationalisation of this spending then the next measure would be down-sizing of the business and reduction of valuable employment for people in Cairns."
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