Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bingo News Media: Garrett faces pokie restrictions fire - 26th July 2011

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Club owners and punters gathered in the Sydney electorate of Education Minister Peter Garrett last night to voice their anger over proposed restrictions on poker machines.

More than 200 people turned up to the South Sydney Juniors Rugby League Club at Kingsford last night to protest against mandatory pre-set betting limits for pokies.

Mr Garrett was given a cool reception as he spoke to the crowd in his electorate of Kingsford Smith, but he was not deterred from defending the changes.

"There's nothing un-Australian about thinking about the problems that people face who are problem gamblers, and trying to do something to address that problem," Mr Garrett said.

"I don't think anyone can take away from the legitimacy of the goal, which is to make sure that something which does fall upon your and my fellow Australians and cause them great grief, and their families great grief and suffering, is dealt with."

Peter Newell from Clubs Australia hit back, saying there are already many restrictions on poker machines.

"Clubs Australia does not want one dollar from problem gamblers, and we are completely open to continuing reform that actually helps problem gamblers. But this current proposal is totally misguided in this regard," Mr Newell said.

"Voluntary pre-commitment has already been put in place by quite a number of clubs without having a noose put around their neck."

National Rugby League chief executive David Gallop told the crowd problem gambling is a terrible issue, but the Government is not offering a solution.

"We do however challenge a policy that will not stop problem gamblers, but will simply make it too complicated for the average person to have an occasional punt," Mr Gallop said.

"If Clubs Australia is even half right, this policy will have a devastating affect on many communities, many grassroots rugby league clubs."

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