Premier Rann’s plan to slash 3000 poker machines from SA’s pubs and clubs has been exposed as a failure, Shadow Gambling Minister Michelle Lensink said today.
“The Premier’s 2004 plan to reduce the number of pokies from about 15,000 to 12,000 to help address problem gambling in this state was clearly disingenuous,” Ms Lensink said.
“After five years the Rann Government is still 800 poker machines short of the target he set himself.
“A look at the gaming machine licence statistics shows the number of pokies has remained stable around 12 – 13,000 since 2005. Clearly the Rann Government has lost interest in reducing the number of pokies.”
Ms Lensink’s comments coincide with the start today of Responsible Gambling Awareness Week.
Ms Lensink said that under the changes brought about by the Government pubs and clubs with 28 or more machines were required to lose eight machines.
The move was a response to a December 2003 report by the Independent Gambling Authority that recommended a 20 per cent reduction in the state’s gaming machines to curb problem gambling.
On 16 February 2004, Mr Rann told State Parliament: “I have thought long and hard about the IGA’s recommendations and have decided to support a 20 per cent reduction in the total number of poker machines in South Australia.”
“Despite support for a 20% reduction, pokies have been cut by only 15%,’’ Ms Lensink said.
Gaming machine numbers in SA peaked in November 2004 at 14,855. The most recent figure as at March 2009 shows there are still 12,685 gaming machines in SA.
“Since August 2003 gaming machines numbers have dropped by 2, 170 well short of the 3,000 target. If the 20 per cent reduction had been carried out there would be 11, 884 gaming machines left.”