Why this state will soon have our loosest pokies regulation
South Australia will have the nation's loosest controls to stop problem gamblers blowing their cash on poker machines if current plans are passed through parliament, a leading economist says.
SA Centre for Economic Studies executive director Michael O'Neil will today release an analysis of a package of reforms Attorney-General Vickie Chapman released last month and described as "balanced".
Much of the public debate has focused on plans to allow note acceptors on machines for the first time in SA, something social-service groups say will speed up spending and worsen problem gambling.
Mr O'Neil said he held deep concern about the ability to access money from Eftpos and ATMs in gaming venues, despite Government moves to cap withdrawals.
"The State Government has argued that its reforms will help protect the community against gambling-related harm," Mr O'Neil said. "To say that these proposed amendments are concerned with harm-minimisation contradicts all serious gambling research. The introduction of note acceptors compounds an existing problem in SA, (which is) easy access to cash through Eftpos inside a gaming room and ATMs inside venues with gaming facilities.
"Other states have banned ATMs and Eftpos in gaming-machine areas of clubs, hotels and in most casinos. If the gambling reforms are passed, SA will stand alone as the worst gambling jurisdiction in the nation for its ability to allow gamblers to access easy cash in a gaming venue."
Other controversial reforms in the State Government package include permitting Christmas and Good Friday gaming, as well as making it easier for clubs to trade machines between each other.
The Government would also remove a legislated target of reduced machine numbers across the state.
The Opposition has offered to support note acceptors, saying that modernising SA's poker machines could pull back some punters from riskier online gaming into an environment with more oversight.
As a trade-off, it has demanded facial-recognition technology in venues with 30 or more machines that have note acceptors fitted.
The entire Upper House crossbench is opposed to note acceptors, which the Government says would bring SA into line with other states.