Australia operators to face inquiry

Senator Nick Xenophon demanded a probe over gaming machines for next year.

Australia.- The South Australia Senator Nick Xenophon declared the beginning of a probe over pokie machines management systems countrywide. The Senator demanded the investigation as the machine manufacturers and operators rejected the proposal of reducing the minimum bet to AUS$1. The senator claimed the industry will have to explain “to the Senate, to the people of Australia, why they refused to be part of making these machines less addictive.”

According to Xenophon, 2017 will be a “very unhappy year for the gambling industry.” The probe will be held by the Senate and will be focused on several gaming major providers, including the largest gaming poker machine operator in Australia, Woolworths Limited. Furthermore, international slot and pokie machines manufacturers with Australian businesses, such as Aristocrat, IGT, Konami, SG Gaming and Ainsworth Game Technology will be inquired as well.

The senator also added in yesterday’s statement his interest in strengthening the law against gaming: “I’ll be looking at legislative amendments to the South Australian Gaming Machines Act to ensure that where an operator of machines wants to introduce features that are less addictive, less harmful, that lowers the rate of loss, then manufacturers should not stand in the way of that. And in fact, regulators should do everything possible to facilitate that.”

The South Australian government demanded a reduction of the minimum bet from AUS$10 a spin to AUS$1. However, the companies answered that the implementation would be ineffective as it would only be time-consuming and would lead to a loss of AUS$3 billion. “We already have industry-leading, voluntary pre-commitment installed on all our gaming machines in mainland Australia; we’re the only company to do so. And if you look at the prevalence rates of problem gambling, they’ve more than halved over the past decade,” argued Woolworths’ spokesman David Curry.