Critics have slammed the proposal to make Electronic Gaming Machines available in TAB betting shops in Western Australia.
Australia.- EGMs have been banned in Western Australia since 1985 and are only allowed at Crown Perth, which has 2,500 of them. However, this could change in the medium term following the sale of WA TAB. A proposal has been made to allow TABs to offer electronic gaming machines.
In 2019, Premier Mark McGowan proposed to allow the prospective bidder for WA TAB to offer EGMs in TAB outlets. The sale was put on hold when the Covid-19 pandemic started has resurfaced. One of the possible buyers is Tabcorp, which runs the betting agencies in every other state.
However, Matthew Rockloff, a lead researcher of CQUniversity, has criticised the proposal.
He told ABC that EGMs are “the most dangerous form of gambling that we know of.”
He added: “Let’s not kid ourselves, that’s what it’s all about: making that (TAB) sale come off with a better payoff. But the downside to that, of course, is expanding gambling opportunities right at a time when we’ve just shown that gambling problems are a lot lower in Western Australia.”
Alan Gray, a financial counsellor who helps Aboriginal people in financial crisis due to gambling-related harm also said the proposal could increase rates of problem gambling.
In September, the Western Australian Royal Commission into Crown Resorts questioned whether there is any difference between pokies and electronic gaming machines (EGMs).
According to financial reports, WA gamblers have spent AU$306m on EGMs this year, up 50 per cent when compared to the previous year.