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Pokies reform a 'king hit' to small towns -

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(generated from captions) Live. Welcome to the

program. The powerful gamble

lobby is stepping up pressure on the Federal dump or weaken planned poker

machine reform. James Packer

has appointed Labor's former national secretary Karl Bitar

to lobby the government. But

it's a dicey area for Labor

embassy its grip on power rests

on the support of independent

MP Andrew Wilkie, and he is

insisting on laws forcing

pokies players to preset how

much they will spend. Next

Tuesday is the deadline for

states to voluntarily get on

most are board with the scheme. So far

warning that small clubs with

pokies in country towns will

collapse under the reform, as national affairs correspondent

Heather Ewart reports from Heather Ewart reports from the

Riverina. It's the week day

competition at Finley bowling club in the New South Wales

local business yen, retirees Riverina. A social hub for

and farmers who are slowly recovering from

drought. Inside the clubrooms drought. Inside the clubrooms

are 18 poker machines, the

mainstay for club revenue

during tough times. There's a

dollar machine. Why didn't you

tell me? All of this is now

considered by club members and management to be at risk.

Because of independent MP

Andrew Wilkie's push for pokie players to set mandatory limits on how much they

gambling. The impact there to lose before they start

will dramatic and immediate,

poker machine revenues, 40% of

our income, and that could virtually disappear overnight. What

What is known in the industry

as precommitment has this club

in uproar. They don't want to

play the game if they are being

told how to lay it. Certainly the casual player won't put

themselves through the process

and even the more regular

and don't anticipate players are not happy with

registering, which means they

can't become a player. That,

this manager claims, means potential club closures and up to 40 employees at various

venues in Finley losing their jobs, with dire consequences for the whole town. That's income

income lost, money not being spent in the main street, in

the butchers, the Bakers and

the supermarket, people leave

town, the flow-on is horrific, clubs in Finley with pokies,

the bowling club, the RSL and

the golf club. Between them

they have a total of 67

machines. That's for a town of

just 2,000 people. So there are

hundreds in the outlying rural

some problem community. While there may be

some problem gambling, you

won't find too many people in

this town who think pokie

reform is a good idea, because

they fear it will take away

sporting teams of much needed revenue from local

Ashley Haynes knows better than

most how much the Finley

football team relies on

sponsorship from the club's

football club poker machines. He is the

football club president: If

there were a downturn it would there were a downturn it would

have an adverse effect on our

club. We didn't win a game for

two years when the drought was

at its peak. We need to win

games to keep people interested

in sport and we need to play

sport. Over the past five

years the three clubs with

pokies have donated more than and charities. They don't $300,000 to local sports groups

declare what percentage declare what percentage of

football club their profits this is. The

football club is a major beshry. It enables us to do

things like Thursday nights we

have discounted meals,

sometimes two courses. On this

footy training night, 100

locals show up for soup and

roast beef rolls, all

subsidised by the pokies, and served by happy with the roll-up? A lot of families of families here, we are a

small community club, that's

what we're all about. The $10

you have put in the pokie you have

machine, you wouldn't do it?

The local federal member is

part of the gathering and vows

to bark the anti-pokies reform

sentiment all the way. I have

66 clubs in the electorate of

Farrer and I talk to them

regularly and I estimate over

$90 million of funding could go

out of our local communities, so

They have suffered enough. This

is a king hit coming down the

track and we don't like it.

Across Bass Strait, Andrew Wilkie knows he's not against the federal opposition

but also a powerful multimillion dollar campaign by

the gamble lobby and big clubs the gamble lobby and big

in the cities. He insists

country towns like Finley have

nothing to fear. I'm not

anti-clubs, I want to see the

support continue. Clubs that

have a low level

gamble will see very little

change in their cash flow, so

that important role of subsidising the local community

will be largely unchanged. He

does have one ally in the

Finley region, and that's the Salvation Army's Captain David

Day, who regularly finds households in these parts struggling to put food on struggling to put food on the

table because of a family

member's easy access to

pokies. People try to hide it

because it can be hidden away. In my of people who have a problem

with gambling, and it seems as

though, in speaking with them, the problem stems from, the

majority of them is poker machines. Do you think there

is problem gambling in the town? Like every town, I town? Like every town, I think

there is, yes, I don't think

any town would say they are

exempt from problem gambling,

but I think this new rule won't

save that, it will send people

inside, they can gamble in and nobody will ever know. Do

you think the Wilkie reforms to

the use of pokies is on the

right track? We need to not

give up, we give up, we need to be trying

something. I believe if we even

trial these reforms, at least

we can say we are trying to do

something for people who

struggle with this addiction.

As next week's deadline looms

for the states to voluntarily

come on board, the signs are not promising. Government says its door is

always open but it will now

have to get on with drafting

legislation to get the reforms through parliament within 12 through parliament within 12 months for Andrew months for Andrew Wilkie withdraws his crucial backing of Labor. It is virtually inconceivable that these

reforms will not progress. But

I don't shy away from the fact that my support for the

government hinges on it, I'm a

man of my word. As

negotiations continue, the

government is looking at giving special consideration to small

clubs in country towns like Finley, and local Ley is stepping up the

pressure. I will lobby all of

my colleagues and the

independent members of the

Lower House to think carefully

about the effect it will have in their community. Everyone

won't have 66 small clubs as I

do, but every rural member

knows the reliance their rural

communities place on the local

clubs in small towns. I'm

confident the government is

genuinely on side and confident I will

I will have the numbers on the

crossbench when it comes to the vote. Back at the Finley

bowling club, they are bracing

for the worst and already

looking at money making

alternatives. Putting up the

price of beer, up to $4 a

middy, which is unheard of

around here, I know it's

commonplace in the city, and

that's driving people to

perhaps drink at home and be

less sociable. Can't afford to

play tomorrow night. That's no

trivial matter for a town that

thrives on being sociable. Under current recommendations

it will be 2014 before the

reforms take effect, or 2018

for clubs with 15 machines or

less. Only then will less. Only then will it be known whether their fears were