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No evidence ticket in-ticket out gaming has increased gambling, Clubs ACT says

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A form of cashless gaming quietly approved by the ACT Government last year has not resulted in an increase in gambling on poker machines, according to the organisation representing registered clubs in Canberra.

Last September Gaming Minister Joy Burch approved ticket in-ticket out (TITO) gaming, in which the winnings from a poker machine can be entered into another machine, rather than first having to be recouped in cash.

It followed a recommendation from the ACT Gambling and Racing Commission and brought the ACT into line with regulations already in place in New South Wales and Queensland.

Clubs ACT chief executive Jeff House, whose organisation represents the ACT’s registered clubs, said there was no evidence the move had led to an increase in problem gambling.

“Canberra’s independent regulator, the Gaming and Racing Commission, examined TITO which has operated in other states for quite some time now,” he said.

“[They] found no evidence that this is going to mean anything for problem gambling, and this is borne out by the fact that since it was introduced, revenue in clubs has actually fallen.”

He said criticisms about the changes came from parts of the community that did not believe gambling had a legitimate place in the Australian way of life.

“I appreciate that’s a view some people have but I reject the premise that policy should be formulated based on only that view,” he said.

Mr House’s comments were in response to negative reactions about the decision from Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury and welfare groups.

‘More steps to support problem gamblers needed’

Mr Rattenbury said he was concerned by reports of changes to the TITO policy and about the impact it could have on problem gambling.

“Removing barriers and physical interactions can effectively make it easier for problem gamblers to spend more money and prevents intervention from staff trained to indentify problem gamblers,” he said.

“The principle behind the ACT’s current ATM restrictions ($250 maximum cash out) is to encourage human interaction and increase barriers to constant gaming.

“However, industry advice to licensed venues suggests that TITO technology decreases the number of hand pays, resulting in longer periods of gaming machine operation and a reduction in face-to-face interaction by easing the transition from one gaming machine to another.

“We need to be taking more steps to support problem gamblers and reduce the opportunities for problem gambling to occur.”

Mr Rattenbury said the policy change seemed contrary to that approach and he would be seeking further advice from relevant experts in the field.

On Friday, Ms Burch said gaming machine revenue had continued to steadily decline since TITO was introduced late last year.

“The commission has been monitoring the use of TITO and I am advised that gaming machine revenues are continuing recent trends of decline indicating that patrons are not spending more than previously,” she said.

“Total gross gaming revenue in November and December 2014 was $1.8 million less than at the same time in 2013.”

Ms Burch was criticised earlier this year for unilaterally allowing the ATM withdrawal limit in clubs to be increased from $20 to $50, a move that has since been overturned.

A form of cashless gaming quietly approved by the ACT Government last year has not resulted in an increase in gambling on poker machines, the organisation representing registered clubs says.

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