Media release: Advisory council step toward reducing gambling harm, strengthening community clubs

25 May 2021

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) has welcomed the announcement of the ACT Community Clubs Ministerial Advisory Council as a positive step toward reducing gambling harm in the ACT while supporting the important role of our community clubs.

Dr Emma Campbell, ACTCOSS CEO said: “We welcome the establishment of the ACT Community Clubs Ministerial Advisory Council and appreciate the inclusion of a range of voices and interests, including those with lived experience, representatives of organisations working toward the minimisation of gambling harm, and representatives from the community club sector.

“Community clubs play an important role in the lives of many Canberrans. They are hubs for social connection and meeting places for – and sponsors of – community groups. We welcome initiatives that encourage clubs to diversify revenue streams and reduce their reliance on Electronic Gaming Machines (EGM, pokies or poker machines) as a step towards the reduction of gambling harm in our community.

“The ACT has one poker machine for every 100 adults, and most of these are located in clubs. We know that the single most effective predictor of problem gambling is the amount of time spent playing a pokie. We also know that Canberrans lose an annual $507 per capita on the pokies. A lack of regulation on bet limits, the accessibility of cash in gambling venues, and no pre-commitment on the amount that can be gambled make the ACT’s poker machines particularly dangerous.

“Gambling harm doesn’t just affect the person sitting in the pokie lounge. The ripple effect touches their family, their social circle and their colleagues. The individual and provider narratives shared inStories of Chance highlight the often hidden and pernicious impacts gambling harm can have on members of our community.

“ACTCOSS welcomes action on delivering on such important initiatives in the Parliamentary and Governing agreement as reducing the number of EGM licenses in the ACT to 3,500, introducing $5 bet limits and $100 load-up limits, and enhancing the self-exclusion scheme. While we would like to see the full implementation of all recommendations of the Canberra Gambling Reform Alliance including a $1 bet limit and mandatory pre-commitment, this is a strong and appreciated start.

“ACTCOSS welcomes the involvement of a representative from Canberra Gambling Reform Alliance in the ACT Community Clubs Ministerial Advisory Council. We look forward in seeing a practical, concerted approach to reducing gambling harm in the ACT, while recognising and protecting a vibrant community club sector,” Dr Campbell concluded.

ACTCOSS advocates for social justice in the ACT and represents not-for-profit community organisations.

For more information or comment, please contact

Dr Emma Campbell, CEO, ACTCOSS, on 0424 910 617 or 02 6202 7200.

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