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Gambling help advocates call for reform as pokies pre-commitment considered

Jamie Hall says he was “about was seven or eight” when he was first exposed to gambling.

Mr Hall, 32, grappled with his own gambling addiction, eventually breaking free by imposing limits on the ways he gambled.

“It impacts all of the people around them, sometimes even further it can impact the general community where debt and money are uncontrollable so people steal,” he said.

He said it took him a while to succeed.

“I put some of the limits that are on betting agencies, betting apps, but I always found a way around those.

“It was probably about the third time of trying to stop that it finally worked,” he said.

The Victorian government today introduced “nation-leading legislation” in response to the Royal Commission into Crown Casino’s conduct.

It includes a condition that gamblers who want to gamble on poker machines will be required to pre-commit to how much they are willing to spend in a 24-hour period.

Mr Hall said the same provisions should be rolled out across Victoria, rather than just at Crown.

Does limit-setting work?

The Latrobe Valley has the third-highest number of pokies in regional Victoria while Latrobe Community Health Service has two teams dedicated to combating gambling addiction.

Clinical coordinator for complex care, Jonathon Fahey, said local trials and international trials had shown mandatory pre-commitment was effective at reducing problem gambling.

“Critically, what it does is allows people to make that decision in a balanced emotional state, because poker machines are designed to make people feel like they’re about to win,” he said.

Gambling addiction advocates want new laws applied to all poker machine operators.(Supplied: unsplash)

Traralgon RSL president Ron Culliver, whose organization has 37 of the Latrobe Valley’s 521 poker machines, said he was not opposed to the proposal to broaden mandatory pre-commitment.

“I can’t see any objections with it, depending on how they’re going to do it,” he said.

“We have programs that allow them to self-exclude, so we already have things in operation to put them in contact with people to help with problem gambling.”

Down to the singles

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