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‘Gamble won’t pay’

Monday, 18th July, 2016

Democratic Club manager Karren Howe says restrictions on poker machines are unnecessary. Democratic Club manager Karren Howe says restrictions on poker machines are unnecessary.

By Daniel Stringer

A push by independent MPs for tighter restrictions on poker machines would have a huge impact on local businesses and one club manager says they would make no difference to problem gambling. 

The restrictions would see gamblers only able to place $1 bets and allowed a maximum loss of $120. 

Karren Howe wears two hats, as both a business manager of the Democratic Club and as a board member of the Club Managers Association of Australia.  

She said that instead of helping those who have a gambling addiction, the proposed restrictions would only affect the majority who play the machines for fun. 

“To go across the board and affect 100 per cent of the population, I think, is totally unfair.

“I think if we can narrow it down and assist people that have the problem, then that is a far better solution than punishing people who just like to use pokies for entertainment.”

As the owner of a business which offers pokie machines as part of its facilities, Karren has seen firsthand the problems gambling can cause. But she doesn’t believe the proposed restrictions would solve the issue, as gamblers will only find a way around them. 

“By making the maximum bet $1 all it is going to do is encourage gamblers to put the money in faster.  

“I also don’t think the $120 maximum loss would be effective because if someone has an addiction they will find a way around it and go elsewhere to play.”

Instead of trying to come up with new ways of making it harder for gambling addicts to feed their addiction, Karren said internal monitoring and support services were a more practical solution. 

“Our club has a voluntary exclusion program and a voluntary limit of expenditure, so we have already put our minimisation measures in place.

“We also have a relationship with Lifeline. So if we see someone that is struggling with the addiction we will suggest their services, or we will even walk them down there ourselves.” 

As a board member for CMA, Karren is the voice for all clubs in the city and said this proposal will have a negative effect on the businesses and their customers. 

“I think every licensed venue that has gaming machines will be affected because it will force customers to go from venue to venue to continue playing.

“The majority of customers know how much they can afford to spend and they generally don’t go past that. Gaming machines are an entertainment device, so that’s what a lot of people use them for.”

The Demo Club will host a regional meeting on Monday that will be attended by about 130 representatives from both CMA and Clubs NSW. They will discuss key issues affecting clubs in the district, including the proposed gambling restrictions.

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