Thursday 24. March, 2016

AFL Discusses Reliance on Poker Machines with Anti-Gambling Advocates

Australian Football League (AFL) chief, Gillon McLachlan, has met with anti-gambling proponents, Tim Costello and Nick Xenophon to discuss the sport’s increasing dependence on cash from gaming machines.

In addition, Costello and Xenophon urged McLachlan to consider the types of poker machines that are operated by the clubs and to rather introduce less harmful machines.

“The AFL can’t keep running these machines full of deliberately addictive secret computer programs,” argued Costello, chair of the Alliance for Gambling Reform. “The fact is, the quickest way out of this pokie nightmare is for the AFL to call for and adopt con-free machines. They can keep their pokies if they really want to, but the machines can’t be used to con people any more.”

Con-free machines are machines that have no addictive features built in such as disguising losses as wins and “fake near-misses.” The Alliance is aiming for a legal definition for these machines which will prove in Federal Court that poker machines are “misleading and deceptive.”

Senator Xenophon urged the AFL to become an example for other clubs and operators of pokies to make their machines safer.

“I think they know their importance to the community,” said Senator Xenophon. “I want the AFL to be a part of the solution, not part of the problem and I believe with goodwill, that will happen.”

North Melbourne is currently the only club in Victoria that does not operate poker machines. Victorian punters lost almost $90 million to poker machines in nine Victorian clubs in the last financial year. This represents around 20 percent of the total revenue brought in by clubs.

An AFL spokesperson commented: “The AFL is certainly receptive to strategies to encourage responsible gambling and open to hearing more on new poker machines designed to encourage responsible use.”

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