Change pokie laws to lessen gambling harm

FORTY prominent public health figures have declared their support for any Government move to clamp down on poker machines, which they have labelled the “overwhelming cause of gambling harm in Australia”.

Last week in a letter to Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and other key parliamentarians, the group called for the rapid introduction of “low-impact” poker machines and a mandatory pre-commitment system.

The mandatory system would require people to cap gambling spend per session, while low-impact machines would reduce the amount able to be lost to $150 an hour.

The Gillard Government agreed to pursue poker machine reform as part of its deal with Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie to secure government.

The figures likened the need for such measures to other successful public health measures, such as anti-smoking laws and gun control.

“An effective response to the harms of