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mandatory pre-commitment legislation and say that local clubs would be forced to spend millions of dollars to adapt to the policy.

Te policy, which has been drafted

from an agreement between the Gillard Government and Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie, would see all poker machine players having to set pre-determined limits on what they spend - and then be locked out of the system if they reach the set limit. Last week Te Salvation Army

Australian Eastern Territory (AEU) issued a statement saying that while its position is that more needs to be done to help problem gamblers identify and connect with support and assistance, it doesn’t believe mandatory pre-commitment alone would address the problem. “Te Salvation Army AUE believes

that, regardless of the findings of the trial, a mandatory pre-commitment system on its own will not effectively respond to the complex issues that underpin problem gambling,” the statement said. Not only do clubs face potentially

large losses in revenue from casual gamblers who don’t want to bother with the paperwork, but they would be forced to adapt - or in many cases renew - poker machines so that they would comply with the proposed legislation. Clubs CEO’s across the region say

that they would be forced to slash the amount they put into junior sports, local charities, facilities for members and other community funding. Kimberely Talbot, Group CEO of the

Richmond Club said the impact of the proposed legislation would be catastrophic

Clubs unite to fight... C

lubs across the Hawkesbury area have united to join in the fight to stop the Gillard Government’s

to the local club community. “First and

foremost, can I just say that there has not been enough research behind the physical side of implementing this scheme,” Kimberely said. “Te

scheme would cost this club alone more than $2.7 million to implement. We are still in recovery mode following the 2005 period prior to non-smoking laws and the global financial crisis. “Te impact will be nothing short of

catastrophic. A 40 per cent reduction in revenue would most certainly mean the banks calling in the debt and that would in turn directly affect our staff and the patrons who come to the club for a game of bowls, a bite to eat or to just enjoy a good family night out. “ Windsor RSL General Manager, Tony

Jeffcott said that along with the majority of people in our country, he personally supports meaningful reforms to assist people in our society that have addictions. “Most people in society have a family

member or friend that has some form of addiction, whether it be drugs, food, poker machines or any other form of gambling,” Tony said. “Clearly assisting people with an

addiction through the introduction of laws, or the big brother approach, along the lines of what is being demanded by Mr

(L to R) Gail Bartley, Sarah Webb, Tony Jeffcott, Kimberely Talbot, Mike Creighton, and Kylie Londish stand united. Photo: KIEREN TILLY.

Wilkie does not work, history has proven this on numerous occasions. “Te

proposed introduction of a mandatory pre- commitment scheme on our society is another typical big brother example. “Mr Wilkie’s

demand to introduce a mandatory pre- commitment scheme on clubs will result in numerous clubs in our communities to close. Te flow on effect of club closures will see a loss of jobs, closure of supplier businesses, removal of support for our veterans, reduced sporting facilities, reduction in charities in our communities, the list goes on. “Te Windsor RSL Club will be one

of the clubs in the Hawkesbury region that will close if the current program to introduce mandatory pre-commitment by Mr Wilkie becomes reality. “Te Windsor RSL Club is not in a

financial position to outlay approximately $2 million dollars to introduce the mandatory pre-commitment scheme being proposed by Mr Wilkie. “A common sense community approach

is required, not a vindictive approach from a minority portion of our society that believe they have the right to be dictators.” Penrith Panthers CEO Ric Simpson

said the scheme wouldn’t do anything to help problem gamblers.

by Kerrie Martin “Leading problem gambling counsellors

and researchers have already told the Government that this untested scheme will actually delay problem gamblers from getting help while punishing the social punters who enjoy the occasional flutter on the pokies,” he said. “Clubs like ours have supported and

helped the community for decades, and now we need the community to help us send a strong message to Canberra that this is political madness.” Federal Member for Macquarie,

Louise Markus agreed that the proposed legislation would put local jobs and community donations at risk. “Te Macquarie electorate has 21 clubs

which employ over 500 people,” Ms Markus said.

“Last year these clubs donated over $5

million worth of support to local charities, sporting and recreational groups. “Tese jobs and those donations are

now at risk. “I acknowledge that gambling is a

major problem for some Australians,” Louise Markus said. “Te Productivity Commission

estimates that less than one per cent of the population are problem gamblers. Whilst I believe it is important to provide these members of the community with assistance, imposing mandatory restrictions on the entire population and potentially damaging our clubs, sporting, recreational and charity organisations is not the answer. “Local clubs provide invaluable services

to our area and should be commended for all the great work that they do in our community. I will continue to fight with the community for common sense on this issue,” Ms Markus concluded.

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