Poker machine generic.
Poker machine generic.

More money pumped into pokies after cashless card launch

DESCRIBED by CQUnivestiy Experimental Gambling Research Laboratory's Dr Alex Russell as "designed to be addiction machines", it's no wonder that $49 million was spent on pokies just in the Bundaberg region between January and November last year.

When compared to the same period in 2018, the Queensland Government Gaming Statistics suggest the amount pumped into increased by about $1,202,029.

Despite the region losing 40 operational poker machines in July, that was the most popular spending period with more than $5 million gambled.

Dr Russell said that could be due to tax returns and the cooler weather making pubs and clubs the "hub of the community".

The Cashless Debit Card, which prevents welfare being used for gambling, was introduced a year ago but Dr Russell said pokie spendings would constantly fluctuate, and "a lot of factors' influenced spending habits.

He said the card, only used by a small faction of the community, was just one factor and there was nothing to suggest it was reducing pokie spends.

"Pokies are set up to be this perfect way to drain your wallet and they do a really good job of it," he said.

"So it's about putting tools in place to help people say, 'this is how much I'm willing to lose this time'.

"Because we know that people go over what they're willing to lose."

" … They are also designed to be addiction machines, if you look at all the psychology literature, all the things that drive repetitive behaviour or addition, pokies have a lot of those things,"

"Like lights and sounds going off when you win or even when you lose."

Dr Russell said a mandatory precommitment, where gamblers set a maximum loss amount before playing, was a potential solution.

He said pokies were introduced in Queensland venues in the 80s and, while they made a lot of money, "they also cause a lot of harm".

"Pokies are the biggest form related to gambling harm in Australia; we lose more on the pokies than most other countries lose on gambling altogether," he said.

"We are the biggest losers in gambling worldwide and pokies are the biggest drivers in that."

Dr Russell said pokies could become dangerous when people "zone out" in front of them and lost focus on how much they were winning or losing.

He said gambling was heavily ingrained in Australian culture, and not just on the slots.

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