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Pokies Reform and You

Sun, Dec 2, 10:11am by Ed Scimia

With new poker machine reforms recently being voted into law, many Australian pokies fans are wondering how the new regulations will affect them. Here’s a look at what you can expect to see and what changes will be taking place in the next few years.

Online Pokies

If you’re an online pokies player, these pokie reforms won’t have any effect on your play. While some anti-gambling legislators have brought up the issue of online pokies, and it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on future legislative efforts to regulate online casinos in Australia. But for the time being, the poker machine reform bill will have no impact on online pokies.

Pub and Club Pokies

If you’re a fan of playing the pokies at your local club, some of the press around the recent poker machine reform might seem scary. But the good news is that you won’t be seeing any changes in the near future, and even after that, most Australians will continue to be able to play pokies in the same way they do now.

The first changes that most pokies fans will notice won’t have anything to do with the games themselves. In the legislation, there is a measure that will restrict ATMs at gaming venues (including clubs) from allowing individuals to withdraw more than $250 on any one day. If you’re normally a big spender at your club, you’ll want to think about how to plan around that provision once clubs begin to put it into effect (we are currently uncertain about the exact date when this provision will be enforced).

Next are changes to the poker machines themselves. The only change that will be made to most machines is the addition of voluntary pre-commitment technology. This will allow – but not require – you to set loss limits when you begin playing on these machines.

The date at which this technology goes into effect at your local clubs will depend on the number of pokies present in those particular venues. First, clubs with more than 20 pokies will be required to add this technology by 2018. Next, clubs with 11-20 pokies will be required to have the technology installed by 2022. Finally, clubs with ten or fewer machines will only be required to have such technology on any new machines they purchase, and will not have to make any changes to their current machines.

Despite much talk about the issue, legislators were unable to pass regulations limiting the maximum bets on poker machines. There are no mandatory limits on pokies bets in the reforms that were passed, although some groups have been lobbying operators of machines to voluntarily place such limits.

ACT Trial

One place where players may see more aggressive reforms is in the ACT. There, a trial program will be put into place with machines that will feature mandatory pre-commitment technology. These machines will force players to set loss limits before playing, and stop players from continuing to place bets once those limits have been reached.

While this trial may be very limited, it’s still quite important to players across Australia. If the trial is deemed successful, mandatory pre-commitment may someday be extended to machines across the country. With this in mind, all machines with the voluntary pre-commitment technology will be required to feature the ability to switch to a mandatory system instead, though it will be many years before such a change could possibly go into effect.

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