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MP Wilkie wants UK FOBT policy adopted in Australia

TAGs: Andrew Wilkie, Australia, Fixed Odd Betting Terminals, FOBT, pokies

Australian independent MP Andrew Wilkie was taking notes as the UK government announced its new policy on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs).

MP Wilkie wants UK FOBT policy adopted in AustraliaABC News reported that Wilkie called for a more stringent measure against Australia’s video poker machines (pokies), which he claimed to be preying on the society’s “most vulnerable.” He hopes that the Australian government would take a leaf out of the UK’s move to slash the FOBTs maximum stake to £2 (US$2.69).

Wilkie, a staunch enemy of pokies operators, lamented that his pleas have previously fallen on deaf ears, saying that the Australian government continuously turned a blind eye on the problem and rejected policies that would rein the gaming machines.

“The Federal Government has it within its power to legislate for $1 maximum bets, as well as other harm minimization measures like mandatory pre-commitment,” Wilkie said, according to the news outlet. “Unfortunately, the Government has shown itself to be thoroughly uninterested when it comes to reining in poker machines.”

Like Wilkie, anti-gambling campaigner Tim Costello argued that the gambling developments in UK should serve as a “moral slap in the face for Australians.” He believes that Australia should also follow in the footsteps of UK in tackling what it said as a very serious social blight.

“We have politicians who have allowed [pokies] to spread to every suburb, particularly the poorest postcodes, which is why we have the greatest gambling losses of anywhere in the world—40 per cent more per head than the next country,” Costello said.

On Thursday, the UK announced a wave of gambling reforms after it concluded its long-running gambling review that started in October 2016.

In a nutshell, UK approved the reduction of FOBTs’ maximum stakes limit from £100 (US$135.08) to £2 (US$2.69) to the detriment of many bookmakers and thousands of its employees; hiked the Remote Gaming Duty, required online gambling operators to implement stronger verification rules and set limits on consumers’ spending; and hiked the age limit for lottery games.

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