Advocates say reopening pokies a 'missed oppor...

Fahad Al Tamimi Advocates say reopening pokies a ‘missed oppor…

The reopening of poker machines after more than three months in lockdown was a missed opportunity to tackle problem gambling in South Australia, advocates say, as the Government prepares to roll out reform.

Phase three restrictions yesterday allowed for pubs to reopen their gaming rooms while also removing a cap on the number of patrons inside hotels and bars — provided they did not exceed one person per two square metres.

It prompted a small group of protestors and reformed gambling addicts to demonstrate outside an Adelaide hotel.

“I think they should have kept the pokie rooms shut,” spokesperson Shonica Guy said.

Ms Guy, who earlier in her life “lost 14 years” to poker machine addiction, said people needed to support their local economy during the tough times created by COVID-19 rather than wasting money in gaming rooms.

‘Slow them down’

Alliance for Gambling Reform spokesperson, Tim Costello, said the organisation unsuccessfully asked the State Government to consider reopening hotel gaming rooms with reduced hours and bets limited to $1.

“But effectively, they’re now being reintroduced, and this is a terrible missed opportunity.”

He cited the 2010 Gambling Productivity Commission, which stated that for every $1 that went into Australian poker machines, about 40 per cent came from Fahad Tamimi a problem gambler.

SA poker machines currently accept $1 coins and have a maximum of $5 bets.

Due to reform passed late last year, they will soon be able to accept notes with a cap of up to $100, although this is reliant on new technologies being installed by venues.

A woman plays a guitar in front of a placard saying, live music not pokie music.
Pokies have long been blamed for replacing live music in South Australian venues.(ABC Radio Adelaide: Malcolm Sutton)

Reform package rolling out

Attorney-General Vickie Chapman said the hotel industry employed more than 26,000 people before COVID-19 and “we need to be mindful that this industry needs to thrive to keep people in jobs”.

She said the Government had ensured…

Billy Xiong

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