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Hotel Industry pledges support to work with governments on problem gambling



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A U S T R A L I A N H O T E L S A S S O C I A T I O N

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Richard J Mulcahy National Executive Director

MEDIA RELEASE

16 December 1999

Hotel Industry Pledges Support to Work with Governments

The Australian hotel industry today pledged support for a cooperative approach to problem gambling following the release of a statement by the Prime Minister and publication of the Productivity Commission Report into Gambling.

“We have already launched and are continuing to develop a range of programs at State and Territory level to address problem gambling and we are committed to working with the Prime Minister and his State and Territory colleagues on addressing the issues involving gambling,” the National Executive Director of the Australian Hotels

Association, Mr Richard Mulcahy, said today.

“In relation to internet gambling, the Australian Hotels Association has presented evidence before the Senate Information Technology Committee’s Inquiry into on-line gambling and we have urged Governments to ensure that no lesser level of regulation should apply to this method of gambling.

“Central to the management of the internet gambling industry, must be demonstrated evidence of the delivery of responsible gambling services as is already required in all States and Territories from gaming machine operators.

“We also welcome the revision in figures by the Productivity Commission which has reduced their estimate of problem gamblers.

“Extensive economic data was presented by the AHA to the Productivity Commission to deal with social cost issues and we welcome the downward revision in those estimates.

“It is noteworthy that the Commission acknowledges considerable difficulty in estimating the net financial contribution to society from gambling and the range of figures now cited also represents some modification from the Commission’s earlier draft report.

“Notwithstanding the preliminary view advanced by the Prime Minister indicating that the Ministerial Council on Gambling will focus on stopping the further expansion of gambling in Australia, evidence provided by the Productivity Commission does not identify this as a real solution to addressing gambling.

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“It is significant to note that the Commission in their latest report has favoured having venue caps on gaming machines rather than State-wide caps, coupled with more targeted consumer protection measures. Any such plans must recognise the rights of existing operators, pre-existing Governmental agreements for incremental increases in gaming machines, and the disadvantaged position of hotels seeking access to gaming

in Western Australia, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory.

“The Australian Hotels Association is also pleased that the Prime Minister acknowledges the rights of individual Australians to gamble, balanced with the ongoing responsibility of Governments for overall community welfare.

“We also support the Prime Minister’s statement confirming that the Commonwealth is not seeking to assume responsibility from the States and Territories for gaming but to play a leadership and coordinating role in developing a National response to problem gambling.

“The hotel industry looks forward to having active participation in the expert advisory body reporting to the Ministerial Council on gambling in the expectation that such a group will present a balanced perspective from the range of community and industry stakeholders,” Mr Mulcahy said.

Media Inquiries: Mr Daniel Leesong, Public Affairs Manager - Ph: (02) 6273 4007; 0417 253 753

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