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Dynamic warnings, ATM withdrawal limits and other issues
This chapter will cover the remaining reforms: dynamic warnings on poker
machines and an automatic teller machine (ATM) withdrawal limit, and issues
raised with the committee in relation to them. It also covers other issues such
as the new levies to be imposed and the establishment of an Australian Gambling
Research Centre within the Australian Institute of Family Studies.
Dynamic warnings on poker machines
The bill proposes that dynamic player warnings be mandatory. The
warnings must relate to the use by a specific person of a particular EGM or
EGMs, or the potential harm and cost of using EGMs. Details such as form, frequency,
content and position of the player warnings may be prescribed in the
Work has been done in this area by Aristocrat which has trialled warnings
and researchers found that:
- responsible gambling messages should be placed within easy sight of
players and frequently changed to reduce habituation to their content; and
- responsible gambling messages tended to reduce the enjoyment of
problem gamblers far more than recreational players. The potential therefore
exists to use messaging in a targeted way to interrupt problem gambling.
Professor Paul Delfabbro spoke about what type of messages are the most
Simple factual information is not that useful. Problem
gamblers often do know the odds; they do know something about how gambling
works. They simply do not pay attention to it. Simply telling people to gamble
responsibly is not enough. Even the word 'responsible' gets some people's ire
up because it is imposing values. It is much better to talk about setting your
own budget and putting the ball in their court. Having messages which people
can personalise and which are also dynamic in a sense that they are very
visible on the screen, I think, are going to be much more useful. If people can
set their own message, it is them dictating for themselves rather than being
told what to do. From our experience, that probably works a bit better.
The committee notes that this measure was supported in submissions. In evidence
to previous inquiries, the committee heard that if there is no basic guidance
on visibility, then the messages could be placed where they are difficult to
see. The committee has also heard during previous inquiries that messages of a
more generic nature about gambling harm are less likely to be effective.
The committee suggests that the location and content of messages should have to
be changed regularly so players don't become habituated to them. Messages also
need to have sufficient impact to reach people who are 'in the zone' with their
playing and who are more likely to ignore them and keep playing. To this end the
committee welcomes the research outlined above which noted the potential to use
messaging in a targeted way to interrupt problem gambling.
ATM withdrawal limits
The Productivity Commission (PC) found that 'people experiencing
problems with their gambling tend to make repeat visits to ATMs and make large
withdrawals, whereas recreational gamblers tend to withdraw smaller amounts
The PC also found that 85 per cent of cash withdrawals from ATMs in gaming
venues involved amounts below $250.
In its 1999 report, the PC also reported that 'problem gamblers were more
likely than non-problem players to withdraw money from an ATM at a venue whilst
playing the pokies'.
The bill establishes that ATMs on gaming machine premises (other than
casinos) must not allow a person to withdraw more than the cash limit of $250
in any 24 hour period.
The amount is to be indexed
and the implementation date is 1 May 2013. The limit will not affect
any state and territory regulation that further restricts access to ATMs in
gaming venues. For example, Victoria has legislated to prohibit ATMs in gaming
venues from July 2012. In addition, Tasmania does not have ATMs in hotels or
The committee notes the table provided by FaHCSIA at the hearing which contains
details of state and territory ATM restrictions.
Regulations can prescribe exemptions for venues, after an application is
made, if compliance would cause 'unreasonable inconvenience' to the community.
This measure was welcomed in most submissions.
However, while supporting the $250 limit, the Australian Churches Gambling
Taskforce stated that it believes the daily limit of $250 is too high and
advocated for the removal of ATMs from EGM venues altogether.
A lower limit or removal of ATMs from EGM venues was also supported by the
Australian Psychological Society.
In contrast, clubs and hotels opposed this measure saying 'there is no
evidence to show that withdrawal limits will have any effect on the prevalence
of problem gambling, while imposing significant inconvenience to other patrons
and club staff'.
Instead, industry called for problem gamblers to approach their bank or
financial institution to lower their daily withdrawal limits.
The committee heard from the ATM Industry Reference Group which
advocated for a daily withdrawal limit of $400.
However, the Reference Group's most pressing concern was the implementation
timeframe of May 2013 and it outlined a number of arguments for a 12-month lead
These issues were discussed with the committee at the hearing where further
detail was provided by Mr Paul Stewart, General Manager, The Banktech Group,
ATM Industry Reference Group:
...our industry wants to ensure that any transition is
seamless, and therefore we do need 12 months to assure that this will be the
case for a number of reasons, including, firstly, clear identification of the
appropriate locations to which any limit would apply. Because the legislation
is national, it is a significant task with, as mentioned, over 5,000 ATMs. We
need to build the technology in conjunction with different state and territory
jurisdictions that exist with different requirements.
We have a range of contractual issues with individual
locations, including those locations that may have multiple ATM providers and
which may be put into a position of needing to break one or both of those contracts
in order to comply with legislation. Payments industry technology moratoriums
are a common practice throughout the Christmas-New Year period, and also
through the Easter period, which limit our ability to make technology changes
during these periods. Therefore, work could not commence until late January at
Processing platforms that we use for ATM transactions are
complicated, and they are not used exclusively for ATMs. They are often shared
by multiple parties, and that includes some that are shared by financial
institutions. Some of the locations where the limit would need to apply would
require physical hardware upgrades, and a significant number would require
software upgrades to those ATMs in order to deliver the legislated limit.
There are also a number of smaller of ATM deployers who would
need to be involved in the process who are currently not engaged in any
government process at the moment. Finally, we would have an obligation in terms
of reporting and monitoring to ensure compliance against the legislation was
measured and adhered to.
The committee appreciates the technical and other issues facing the ATM
Industry Reference Group and its request for additional time to implement these
changes. It notes the self-imposed moratorium across the peak processing period
so work could not commence until mid-January 2013. Taking into consideration
the timing of the next self-imposed moratorium, the committee does not oppose the
industry being given until the end of 2013 to implement the changes. However,
as the committee are not technical experts, it understands that government will
be best placed to judge whether such a time extension is warranted.
The committee recommends that the members of the ATM Industry Reference
Group be given until the end of 2013 to implement the $250 daily withdrawal
limit on ATMs in gaming machine premises should the government believe such an
extension would assist with the transition.
However, given the disparity of views regarding what the actual limit
should be, the committee is inclined to support $250, noting that $250 is not
the maximum amount of money a patron would be able to spend in a venue as they
could also access EFTPOS or credit card facilities.
The committee notes that ATM transactions have no element of human
interaction as there is with EFTPOS. However, the committee is concerned that
not including EFTPOS transactions in the $250 per day withdrawal limit may
result in unintended consequences and believes this issue should be included in
the review of implementation to be undertaken by the Productivity Commission.
The committee recommends that the issue of including EFTPOS transactions
in the $250 per day ATM withdrawal limit be considered by the Productivity
Commission in its review of assessment of progress in complying with the
requirements around the ATM withdrawal limits.
Chapter 4 of the bill creates offences to protect information that has
been obtained under the Act. The creation of a national database of information
obtained from pre-commitment systems is ruled out.
However, disclosing information is authorised in a number of situations
including for the purposes of the Act, for law enforcement purposes,
statistical research or with consent. Clause 67 provides offences for
unauthorised disclosure of protected information. These include imprisonment
The committee notes that the Privacy Commissioner has reviewed the bill
and raises a number of suggestions that may improve the effectiveness of
privacy safeguards in the bill.
The Australian Churches Gambling Taskforce also raises some concerns in this
The committee suggests the government review the submission by the
Privacy Commissioner and consider any necessary amendments to improve privacy
safeguards in the bill. The committee also suggests the government respond to
any issues raised by the relevant scrutiny committees.
Imposition of new levies
Chapter 6 of the bill provides for levies to support the bill: the
supervisory levy and the gaming machine levy.
Part 2 of Chapter 6 (see also National Gambling Reform (Related Matters)
Bill (No. 1) 2012) imposes a liability for a supervisory levy which applies to
all gaming machine premises to cover the regulatory costs to the Commonwealth
of administering the Act.
The amount will be payable for a gaming machine for a levy period
if a person makes the gaming machine available for use at any time during that
Industry raised concerns that the levy has no expiry date or cap and
that it would be set after the legislation has passed the Parliament.
The committee notes that the method of calculating the supervisory levy
will be determined by regulations and the government has undertaken to consult
with industry to inform the development of the regulations that will determine
Additionally, the government has indicated that the supervisory levy will only
be used to cover the costs of administering the legislation.
The committee emphasises that the levy will be determined in consultation with
industry and until the regulations are made, the levy is not payable.
Gaming machine regulation levy
The gaming machine regulation levy (see also National Gambling Reform
(Related Matters) Bill (No. 2) 2012) imposes a liability on a person who is
entitled to gaming machine revenue, who is not a constitutional corporation. The
Explanatory Memorandum notes that the purpose of the gaming machine regulation
levy is to encourage compliance with requirements relating to pre-commitment
systems and dynamic warning requirements by persons who are not constitutional
corporations. It will be determined by reference to the amount of gaming
machine revenue. It is not payable if a gaming machine complies with the
pre-commitment system and dynamic warning requirements, or if the gaming
machine is made available by a person who is, or is sufficiently connected, to
a constitutional corporation.
This is the first time the Commonwealth has taken national action in the
area of gambling. Dr Anne Twomey agreed that the corporations power would
'cover direct regulation in relation to most entities that own or operate
gaming premises'. Dr Twomey questioned how many entities are not
incorporated and therefore will not be affected by direct legislation.
This question was asked of FaHCSIA on notice which responded that government
analysis suggests a minority of venues are not incorporated.
The committee recognises that the levies address two separate issues.
First, is how to cover the regulatory costs to the Commonwealth of
administering the Act. This is addressed by using the taxation power to impose
the supervisory levy on all licensees of gaming machines premises (contained in
National Gambling Reform (Related Matters) Bill (No. 1) 2012). The second issue
is around non-compliance. Civil penalties for non-compliance for constitutional
corporations are contained in the bill.
The committee is pleased to note that the bill also recognises that there might
be organisations operating gaming machines that are not constitutional
corporations. The gaming machine regulation levy (contained in the National
Gambling Reform (Related Matters) Bill (No. 2) 2012) uses the taxation power to
encourage compliance with pre-commitment and dynamic warning requirements by
persons who are not constitutional corporations.
The levy is not payable if they comply with the pre-commitment system and
dynamic warning requirements.
Chapter 9 of the bill provides for two inquiries by the Productivity
Commission: in relation to any trial of mandatory pre-commitment systems; and
an assessment of the progress gaming machine premises are making towards
complying with the measures contained in the bill.
Productivity Commission review of
mandatory pre-commitment trial
The government has undertaken to sponsor a large-scale trial to build
the evidence base for mandatory pre-commitment. It will be held in the ACT and run
for 12 months. The trial will test the operational features of mandatory
pre-commitment and assess whether mandatory pre-commitment delivers sufficient
advantages to communities and individuals when compared to voluntary
pre-commitment. The trial will assess the effects on problem gamblers,
recreational gamblers, venues and communities. One or more independent bodies
will be engaged to design, manage and evaluate the trial. After the trial has
been completed the PC must inquire into the results as evaluated by the
On 8 September 2012, the Minister announced a Trial Oversight Committee
would be appointed to provide technical and implementation advice to the
Australian and ACT Government and the independent contractors who will manage
and evaluate the trial. Preparatory work for the trial will begin before the
end of 2012.
FaHCSIA confirmed that the trial oversight committee has already met.
Productivity Commission review of
assessment of progress
The Productivity Minister must refer to the PC for inquiry, an
assessment of the progress gaming machine premises are making towards complying
with pre-commitment systems and dynamic warning systems, ATMs limits,
requirements for manufacturing and importing gaming machines and any other
matters the Minister considers relevant. This referral must occur no later than
30 September 2014.
The committee has recommended that the following areas be included in
the ban on the use of biometrics;
the linking of pre-commitment to loyalty schemes;
whether there are grounds for further exemptions for smaller
venues in regional and remote areas; and
any unintended consequences of not including EFTPOS transactions
in the $250 per day ATM withdrawal limit.
The PC must submit its report on both inquiries within six months.
As soon as practicable after receiving the report, the minister who administers
the new Act must prepare a statement that sets out the government's response to
each recommendation. The statement must be tabled in Parliament within three
months after receiving the report.
Research into gambling
Chapter 9 of the bill also establishes a new Australian Gambling
Research Centre within the Australian Institute of Family Studies supported by
an expert advisory group. The bill proposes that additional functions be given
to the Director of the Australian Institute of Family Studies to establish the
Australian Gambling Research Centre. The new functions will be to undertake or
commission research into, or produce data and statistics about: the harm caused
by gambling to problem gamblers, their families and communities; those at risk
of experiencing harm; measures that might be undertaken to reduce that harm; and
recreational gambling. The Centre will also seek to increase the capability and
capacity of researchers to conduct this research and produce gambling data and
An expert advisory group would be established to provide advice to the
Director of the Australian Institute of Family Studies in their capacity as the
Director of the Australian Gambling Research Centre in relation to: strategic
directions, research plans and programs; and strategies for increasing the
capability and capacity of researchers to conduct research and produce data and
statistics about gambling.
The group would consist of at least 7 but no more than 11 members apart from
The need to ensure independence and
The proposed research centre was welcomed in submissions.
However a couple of issues were raised that the committee agrees warrants
attention. First is the independence of the Centre, the academics and the
expert advisory group. Dr Samantha Thomas outlined her concerns in this
As we have learned from many other public health issues, it
will be important that the research institute is independent from the interests
of the gambling industry. This includes ensuring that representatives of the
gambling industry are not appointed to the board of the institute or any of its
subcommittees - either through direct industry appointments, or through the
appointments of academics or community groups who have existing or previous
funding links to the gambling industry. Further detail is required in the Bill
about the make up of the Board of the Gambling Institute to ensure its
This view was supported by the Australian Psychological Society (APS):
The APS strongly supports the establishment of an Australian
Gambling Research Centre. In particular, we support a centre that:
- is completely independent from the gambling industry, including
that no research is funded directly by the industry.
The APS also made a number of other suggestions that the Centre:
- is adequately resourced to undertake the required research and
the capacity to inform decision-making in relation to gambling-related policy;
- considers both the impacts and treatment interventions for
individuals and their families, and the systemic and structural factors and
solutions, in keeping with the WHO’s Social Determinants of Health Framework
that has been endorsed by the Australian Government;
- prioritises research to understand the impact of emerging forms
of gambling, such as the interactive and online gambling including saturated,
integrated and impulse gambling marketing strategies in sporting matches and
particularly with regard to the influence on children and young people;
- works collaboratively with the Problem Gambling Research and
Treatment Centre to further research for screening, assessment and treatment of
problem gambling; and
- conducts rigorous evaluations of current interventions and
treatment services and undertakes independent evaluation and research into the
impact of policies designed to reduce gambling related harm.
The committee notes that the Australian Gambling Research Centre will
start work in July 2013. It will undertake and commission research and produce
data and statistics on: problem gambling and those at risk; measures to reduce
harm; and recreational gambling. It will create a more policy-oriented approach
to research; improve data collection; increase transparency; and focus the
research agenda on measures to reduce harm. The Centre will help address the
lack of robust evidence and consistent data to inform policy development. The
Australian Institute of Family Studies is an Australian government statutory
body and this will ensure independence from government while ensuring the
support of an experienced and highly capable research organisation.
The issues of research independence and transparency were highlighted in the
committee's third report. The committee notes that inclusion of industry can
provide access to research opportunities and data. It therefore does not rule
out the input of industry but would support transparency around this. The
committee encourages the development of appropriate guidelines for the
management and transparency of any potential conflicts of interest, for example
as used by the Australian Research Council and the National Health and Medical
Need to ensure adequate funding
The other area of concern was the amount of funding for the Centre and
the need for it to be ongoing. The Gaming Technologies Association supported
the establishment of an Australian Gambling Research Centre but expressed the
view that its preliminary annual budget of $1.5 million would not be sufficient:
GTA’s view in relation to an AGRC budget is based on
experience. The cost of the landmark University of Sydney research project
which resulted in its report of November 2012 and is still widely referenced,
exceeded $1 million in today’s dollars (including $260,000 to reconfigure a
small number of machines). GTA anticipates that the AGRC would be requested to
undertake several such studies in its first year; accordingly, its annual
budget should be more than $5 million.
The Australian Churches Gambling Taskforce also highlighted the need for
...this provision will only have meaning if the Commonwealth Government
provides the Australian Institute of Family Studies with additional funding to conduct
such research effectively. Much of the research into measures to reduce the
harms caused by gambling has been constrained by inadequate research budgets,
forcing the use of methodologies that do not allow researchers to fully
evaluate proposed measures.
The committee notes advice from FaHCSIA confirming that the Australian
Gambling Research Centre will receive funding from the Australian Government of
$1.5 million per annum on an ongoing basis.
Need for a national prevalence
The committee considers that as a priority, the Australian Gambling
Research Centre should conduct a national prevalence study of problem gambling,
using best practice screening tools,
to establish baseline data as the last such study was conducted in 1999. During
its inquiries the committee heard of the difficulties in comparing prevalence
data from the states and territories due to inconsistent methodologies. The
committee is concerned that due to inconsistent measurements there may be
groups of problem gamblers and vulnerable populations that are not being identified
and this hampers our understanding of the extent of the problem.
The committee recommends that the Australian Gambling Research Centre
should, as a priority, conduct a national prevalence study of problem gambling
to establish baseline data (using best practice screening tools) that will
enable comparison between jurisdictions and will include as many at risk groups
The committee supports the intent of the National Gambling Reform Bill
2012 to set the minimum requirements for the establishment of a state or
territory-wide pre-commitment system that can be used by players as a tool to
help them set limits around their play and to assist them to play within those
limits. It trusts that its suggestions for additional functionality will be of
assistance in providing the most helpful pre-commitment system for players which
is simple and easy to use. The committee welcomes the complementary measures of
dynamic warnings and limits on ATM withdrawals as well as the other measures
announced by the government on 21 January 2012 to assist problem gamblers.
It sees this legislation as a positive step to address a national public health
problem on a national basis.
The committee recommends that the bills be passed.
Mr Andrew Wilkie MP
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