‘Work is happening but the timing is out of our hands.’THE gaming industry in the ACT says a trial of mandatory precommitment limits on poker machines will not go ahead.
And with the federal government refusing to commit to introducing precommitment legislation, the last vestiges of national gambling reform have all but disappeared.
The chief executive of Clubs ACT, Jeff House, told The Sunday Age the trial would not go ahead because there was too little time to set it up.
”We certainly won’t be getting it done between now and early February,” he said. ”There are so many questions we don’t know the answers to.”
The trial – of technology that would allow punters to preset how much money they were prepared to lose – was supposed to begin in February and run across the ACT.
Mr House said no poker machines in the ACT were ready for the technology. About one-third would need to be replaced, he said, and the rest would need to be modified.
A commitment to gambling reform was a key element in securing independent MP Andrew Wilkie’s support for the government after the 2010 election. The government reneged on the deal in January this year.
However, it promised an ACT-wide trial of mandatory precommitment with legislation requiring all new poker machines to be fitted with the technology from 2013 and all machines to have the technology by 2016.
Mr Wilkie supports the government’s bill because it sets a precedent for federal action on gambling.
The Greens refuse to support the bill because they want to see the inclusion of $1 maximum bet limits.
Clubs ACT does not want to proceed with the trial without the rest of the measures provided for by the government’s legislation.
Mr House said he would meet the Department of Families and Community Services next week to discuss the trial’s future but he was ”not optimistic”. He said he did not believe the federal government would try to introduce the legislation next year before an election.
A spokeswoman for the Minister for Community Services, Jenny Macklin, said there was still no time frame for introducing the legislation because of the lack of support from the Greens or the Coalition. She was also doubtful about the trial’s future.
”The work is still happening to make it a possibility but the timing is out of our hands,” the spokeswoman said.
The Greens’ gambling spokesman, Richard Di Natale, accused the clubs of trying to kill off the trial.
”If the trial doesn’t happen that’s as much their decision as anyone else,” Senator Di Natale said.
”What’s required here is for the government to take industry on.”
Senator Di Natale said he remained in talks with the government about the legislation.
”My concern is a future government would not do anything given the history of the recent reforms,” he said.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.