Australian Gambling Research Centre proposes pre-commitment betting limit on pokies

  • Discussion paper proposes the role out of pre-commitment pokies across the nation
  • Research conducted claims only 1% of players would choose to use a voluntary system

The AGRC (Australian Gambling Research Centre) has released a discussion paper highlighting its proposal for compulsory pre-commitment systems to be rolled out across the nation on slot machines (pokies).

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However, for the proposed system to work, all pokies fans would have to agree to commit to a limit on their gambling expenditure in a bid to reduce player losses and reduce the risk of gambling addiction.

How exactly would it work?

The idea for a pre-commitment system will likely appeal to some players keen to reduce unexpected losses, but would rely on a limit commitment.

AGRC researcher Dr Angela Rintoul has said that in order for the proposal to be effective, players would be required to use an ‘identifiable device, such as a card’ in order to use a pokie machine.

The use of a pre-commitment card would in turn enable a player make the limit binding and in Dr Rintoul’s words: “support people who are wanting to reduce their gambling expenditure, to really limit that and decide what level of loss is appropriate for them.”

There is also the addition of a time limit set by the player to avoid running over time and potentially chasing losses long into the night.

Poor uptake in 2015 trial

This is not the first time the idea has been floated. In 2015 the state of Victoria trialled an optional pre-commitment pokie system with Crown Casino in Melbourne, an early adopter of partial pre-commitment as part of its loyalty program for players, whilst New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia have also run trials in the past.

Perhaps of concern to the AGRC is that following data from research collected, only 1% of players would opt to use a voluntary pre-commitment machine as opposed to a traditional slot machine.

This will be good news for operators of venues that house pokies, as a limit on losses would theoretically mean a reduction in income and thus profits.

AGRC’s key points

It seems the AGRC is concerned about problem gaming in the country and sees pre-commitment systems as a way to tackle the problem but still keep alive the thrill and enjoyment of gambling.

The discussion paper highlights that 2.4% of the Australian adult population are moderate to high risk gamblers, which equates to more than 400,000 people. However, those figures were from 2010, with numbers expected to have increased since.

The paper also focuses on successes of pre-commitment systems overseas, for example Norway, which in 2010 introduced a limited number of modified Electronic Gaming Machines and Sweden, where big player Svenska Spel rolled out a full pre-commitment system for EGMs in 2013.

From the research conducted by the AGRC, we are unlikely to see the full roll-out of pre-commitment systems anytime soon, the backlash from operators would delay things further but with everything in the casino industry, watch this space as anything could happen.

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