James Packer, the billionaire co-chairman of gaming company Melco Crown, has slammed Aussie Labour’s proposed gambling laws – claiming Australia’s tourism industry is under threat.
Packer’s beef is with governments across the region, particularly current PM Julia Gillard and former PM Kevin Rudd, who, he says, have allowed an increasing number of casino resorts to attract more Chinese high-rollers.
In a report by The Australian, Packer said to over 1000 people: “If we look at the Labour government under both Rudd and Gillard, one of the things that people have said in the past – and I think with some justification – is the implementation of some of their marquee policies has been less smooth and less effective than we all would have hoped.”
Packer, whose Crown company owns two of the nation’s biggest gaming facilities: the Crown casino complex in Melbourne and the Burswood casino in Perth, added: “When you are dealing with an industry that employs 300,000 people it is important to get the implementation right.”
In a bid to reduce “problem gambling”, Federal independent MP Andrew Wilkie wants the government to introduce a mandatory pre-commitment on poker machines. However, Packer is packing a powerful argument against it, saying that such a measure would be ineffective and hurt recreational players.
In response to Packer’s rant, Wilkie said Packer was repeating misinformed natter spread by the pokies industry. He said that mandatory pre-commitment would mean players would set limits on their losses before they started gambling and further play would stop when they reached those limits. He added that low-intensity poker machines wouldn’t be fitted with mandatory pre-commitment and would be installed with $1 maximum bets.
“Most poker machine players won’t notice a difference,” he said. “Many are used to carrying loyalty cards similar to pre-commitment cards. And the 88 per cent of Australians who gamble $1 or less a spin can play the low-intensity machines without a card.”