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Woolies won’t follow Coles’ $1 pokie limits

Tue, Dec 20, 5:12pm by Staff Writer

Woolworths will not follow Coles’ plans to introduce $1 maximum bets on its 12,000 poker machines, saying it doubts whether the practice results in reduced problem gambling.

Coles’ owner Wesfarmers confirmed earlier this week it had asked pokie manufacturers to assist it facilitate a trial of $1 maximum bet limits on its 3000 machines in Queensland and South Australia.

However, it is struggling to gain co-operation from the five major poker machine manufacturers, who say the technology will cost too much to implement.

“Gaming regulations prohibit anyone other than licensed gaming manufacturers from making changes to poker machines, and so we have sought assistance from the manufacturers who provide poker machines for our pubs, however all of them have declined,” a Coles spokesman said.

“We still want to proceed with the trial and hope to work with the manufacturers to address any hurdles they may identify to conducting a trial of $1 bet limits.”

Coles currently generates around $185 million annually from its machines, which are located in 89 hotels and clubs.

Woolworths, through its subsidiary ALH Limited, is a much bigger player and runs 12,000 machines across Australia for an annual revenue of $1.1 billion.

Spokesman David Curry told the Australian Financial Review that ALH, which is 75 per cent owned by Woolworths, would not follow Coles’ lead

“Quite clearly ALH are not considering the adoption of $1 maximum bets,” Curry told the AFR.

“The reasons are there would be no regulatory neutrality with other gambling products – it would put gaming machines in isolation, as there are no bet limits on wagering, sports betting, Keno, scratchies, casino table games etc,” he said.

“And we don’t think it’s evidence based. The prevalence of problem gambling has more than halved over the last decade to around 0.7 per cent nationally.”

“The gaming landscape is changing significantly, we have seen an enormous shift to sports betting and there’s a whole raft of measures already in place including self exclusion programs, dynamic warnings, online and telephone gambling help services already in place,” he said.

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